Larger than life saints grace St. Ann Church for Christmas
12 custom-made statues from Italy surround sanctuary, nave
CHARLOTTE —The Bible verse from Hebrews 12:1 that is inscribed above the interior of St. Ann Church on Park Road speaks about being "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" has taken on a new meaning thanks to the gift of an anonymous donor.
Twelve custom-made, hand-carved wooden statues, created by artist Ivo Demetz of Demetz Art Studios in Ortisei, Italy, are being installed high along the inside the church, just in time for Christmas.
"This is a birthday gift for Our Lord," said Father Timothy Reid, pastor of St. Ann Church, who had asked parishioners to pray for swift delivery and installation of the statues by Christmas Eve.
The 6-foot carved wood and hand-painted statues each weigh about 200 pounds and had to be shipped from Italy in large crates. Each statue was carefully wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap and surrounded by a special type of Styrofoam for the transatlantic voyage.
Prior to their arrival, local artist Lisa Autry and her husband Toby were commissioned to hand stencil each niche, a difficult feat involving scaffolding and ladders to reach the niches – which are 14 feet high. They had to work swiftly to meet the Dec. 19 deadline for the statues' installation.
"We're happy to be a part of this," said Lisa Autry.
Lids of the 12 crates were removed on Dec. 19 and this week each statue is being carefully transported from the Monsignor Allen Activity Center, where they are being stored, over to the church for the installation. Each statue is being carefully attached to a custom-made pedestal in each niche.
The 12 statues include: St. Lawrence, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St. Thomas More, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. John Vianney, St. Lucy, St. Maria Goretti, St. Rose of Lima, St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Rita. The saints represent every period in Church history from the second to the 20th centuries, as well as many vocations within the Church.
"The saints that we chose and how they're arranged in the church all came out of my prayer," said Father Reid.
"I knew that I wanted an equal number of males and females. I also knew that I wanted them to cover the entire history of the Church and all of the vocations in the Church. So we have early martyrs like Lawrenceand Lucy, as well as a 20th century saint (Maria Goretti). We have women religious, a mother (St. Rita), a child (St. Maria Goretti), a father (St. Thomas More), a deacon (St. Lawrence), priests (St. Ignatius and St. John Vianney), a bishop (St. Augustine) and an abbot (St. Benedict).
As I prayed about whom to choose, Our Lord made it clear in my prayers. And oftentimes while offering the sacrifice of the Mass I would get an inspiration about whom to place where."
The statue project began in October 2010 and cost about $350,000.
"We first developed ideas for each statue (i.e., what type of iconography to include, etc.), then began working with conceptual drawings....then to clay models...and eventually to wood. Each statue is an individual work of art. They're not reproductions of other statues. They were made especially for St. Ann's," added Father Reid.
—SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy