Cleveland man rescues religious statues

When a parish is closed, what happens to the art? Lou McClung, an artist and jack-of-many-trades near Cleveland, Ohio, wondered just that and decided to do something unusual: open a museum for rescued statues. A local paper, the Canton Rep, carried the story.

McClung, who owns Lusso Studio, recently bought a decommissioned church to show the statues and art he saves. The 104-year-old St. Hedwig’s will soon be called the Museum of Divine Statues.  The diocese is supportive of his endeavor.

McClung said people marvel at being able to get a close-up look at statues they had seen all their lives from afar. The collection also includes a 13-foot crucifix, beneath which his own parents were married.



McClung said the nonprofit museum is a natural outgrowth of his hobby and business as an art collector.

“I bought my first statue at an antiques store,” he said. “I thought it was a great type of art to save and to rescue.”

Saving this art is a ministry in more ways than one for McClung. In 2009, 50 parishes located in eight counties within Cleveland’s diocese were closed and many parishioners were upset.

“The statues have become familiar faces in their churches,” he said. “If I can pull this off, it’ll give every (closed) church some recognition.”

Fourteen of those parishes have petitioned the Vatican.

“If people don’t get their churches back, we’ll rescue their statues,” McClung said.

The artist has footed the bill of restoration costs, teaching himself  how to properly clean and repaint the pieces, as well as craft missing limbs and fingers.

You can read more here.

(Image: CantonRep.com/Stan Meyers)

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Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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