“It really looks beautiful, doesn’t it?” Monsignor Thomas Klinzing said Thursday, admiring the brand-new statue that now sits in the parish hall courtyard of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church.
The church’s newest treasure is a 4-foot, 2,000-pound carving of Jesus Christ sitting and holding two children, installed Thursday afternoon via crane.
Upon seeing an 8.5-by-11-inch, black-and-white photograph of the same scene about a two-and-a-half years ago, Klinzing yearned to make it into a carving. He contacted church parishioner Desmond Keogh, owner of Haifa Limestone in West Palm Beach, to see whether he could make it happen.
Keogh, who travels to Jerusalem often to extract stone, called Klinzing from the city a year later saying that he found a 2-ton block of Jerusalem red limestone, which is grayish-red in color, from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site is said to be where Jesus was crucified.
He said the limestone is the same found in the Via Dolorosa, a processional route in Jerusalem believed to be the path Jesus walked en route to his crucifixion.
The project came with a hefty price tag: $10,000 for the limestone extraction, and $40,000 for the carving work. However, Klinzing didn’t hesitate.
“I wrote a check and sent it over,” he said.
According to Klinzing, money for the extraction came from him and parishioners who wish to remain anonymous. Keogh said he picked up the rest of the tab.
“It’s very special because (the limestone’s) the real thing,” Keogh said. “It’s one of a kind.”
Keogh had to wait six months for the lone Christian carver in Bethlehem to begin making the statue, which took five weeks to complete.
Once the statue arrived at the Haifa office five weeks after its completion, the staff refinished it to give it a more vibrant color. The statue then sat at Haifa for two months while the church got permits from the town’s Architectural Commission, Keogh said.
Despite the statue’s weight and the crane having to lower the statue over a roof, Thursday’s installation only took about 25 minutes. Four men had to turn the statue a few inches before it sat properly on a pedestal.
“It’s put in place with high-strength glue, so it’s not going anywhere,” said Haifa project manager Eddie Peña.
The church plans to have a dedication ceremony for the statue later this year, and also have a plaque made.
Now that the statue is in place, Klinzing would like to frame the base of its pedestal with pink crown of thorns flowers, symbolizing the headpiece Jesus wore before he was crucified.
“People need to know that it’s a work of art,” he said.