Restoring Church Beauty: Artists Mend Statues in an Age of Vandals

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Catholic art restorers see their work as a labor of love and a labor of faith. Arlene Miller’s Nativity set at St. Michael’s adorns the midnight Mass at the Rochester, New York, church. Sheila Lehman has transformed a vandalized Our Lady of Grace statue from St. Vincent’s in Los Angeles, a smaller Our Lady of Mount Carmel statue and a depiction of the 12th Station (all shown as before-and-after images). Also shown: A Pietà statue was restored by Mary Birkos. (photo: Courtesy of artists)

Skilled artists are defying a ‘throwaway culture’ to renew the majesty of Catholic statues that draw hearts and minds to the beauty of holiness.

By Peter Jesserer Smith, EWTN News, December 13, 2020

Peter Jesserer SmithSt. Michael’s Catholic Church stands like its namesake sentinel over a city that needs the church’s presence. For the faithful who cross the threshold, the doors of this neo-Gothic church open wide to reveal a pageant of color and light.

Around the Rochester, New York, sanctuary and upon the altar are the statues, which, despite the passage of decades, have been renewed in splendor by a local artist and longtime parishioner.

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and really got into it by accident,” Arlene Miller told the Register. A number of beautiful statues were sold by another city parish, and rather than let them be carted off, a group from St. Michael’s bought them to adorn their cathedral-like parish, and Miller was asked to restore their beauty and help add richness to the people living in one of the poorest parts of the city.  …