February 11, 2021
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 vandalism of the 8-foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the historic St. Patrick Cathedral on September 15, 2020 left many concerned that the statue could not be repaired. 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 statue has been at the Cathedral almost as far back as the dedication ceremony which took place on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1917.
The Sacred Heart was shipped to Daprato Rigali Studios in Chicago for repair on October 8, 2020. It was the Daprato Brothers, today Daprato Rigali Studios, founded in 1860, who made the original statue. The same company lovingly restored the statue and is now preparing to ship it back to El Paso. Shipping the Sacred Heart back to the Cathedral is more complicated than it was getting it to Chicago when the statue was broken and in pieces.
Elizabeth (Lisa) Rigali, the director of art and design at Daprato Rigali Studios who spearheads many of their painting projects and is one of the four 4th generation owners of Daprato Rigali Studios, shared that it was a great pleasure and honor to restore the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She detailed the painstaking restoration process saying they first had to reinforce the body to the base and then the head to the base. At that point, they sculpted a new hand, arm, and face. The statue masters pieced together all of the cracked pieces of plaster and once the statue was intact, they cleaned the entire thing and sealed it with surface painting. The statue was painted in traditional colors and sealed with a finish coat.
Many donors contributed a total of $38,549 to the Cathedral Heart Statue Fund to support restoration of the statue, shipping costs, repair of the damaged altar, and contribute to an upgraded security system at St. Patrick Cathedral.
The Catholic Foundation is helping to oversee the distribution of donations intended to support the Cathedral Sacred Heart Statue Fund and the parish, and 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.