Vandalized statue of Sacred Heart of Jesus returns to Texas cathedral

El Paso Sacred Heart statue Restored statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. | Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso.

A west Texas parish has restored a century-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus after it was vandalized and nearly destroyed last September. 

The Diocese of El Paso issued a statement on Feb. 11 announcing the statue’s return.

“There was an outpouring of grief when the St. Patrick Cathedral Sacred Heart statue was vandalized last fall. Shock and sadness brought together donors from all over the country who felt compelled to pray and to give. Today, the statue is restored and making its way back to St. Patrick Cathedral,” the diocese said.

The statue had been present at the cathedral since shortly after the dedication ceremony took place in 1917. 

In September 2020, a vandal entered the cathedral’s sanctuary and decapitated the statue, which had been placed behind the main altar of the church. A 30-year-old man was charged with criminal mischief for the vandalism.

Mass was not taking place at the time of the vandalism, but the church was open for prayer.

At the time, the diocese expressed doubt that the broken pieces of the statue were possible to restore. 

However, the statue was subsequently sent to Daprato Rigali Studios for repair. The Daprato brothers had made the original statue. 

Elizabeth Rigali, director of art and design for the studio, said it was an honor to repair the statue, according to the diocese. 

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As part of the restoration process, the company had to reinforce the head, body, and base of the statue. They also had to sculpt a new hand, arm, and face.

“So many members of the faithful had looked to the Sacred Heart, his arms open wide in welcome, for over 100 years during some of the most joyful and challenging times in their lives, and the thought of its destruction and possible replacement was difficult to accept,” the diocese said. 

The donations have been handled by the diocese’s Catholic Foundation. More than $38,000 was donated to support the statue's restoration and shipping costs, as well as repair of the altar which was also damaged. Some of the funding will also be used to upgrade the cathedral’s security system.

“[The Catholic Foundation] extends its sincere appreciation to all who contributed in any amount and prayed for the statue's restoration and safe return, especially the St. Patrick Cathedral community and leadership. Once again, the Diocese of El Paso came together in faith to overcome pain and obstacles from a place of compassion and forgiveness. Plans to welcome the Sacred Heart back home are underway and we'll share more news when we have it,” the diocese said. 

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