A statue of a saint known for his eighth-century missionary excursions has almost completed its long journey back to the South Wedge after being missing for nearly 60 years. The statue, a seven-foot-tall cast-iron image of St. Boniface that weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, will soon return home to St. Boniface Church on Gregory Street.
St. Boniface was born in England and spent much of his life as a missionary, helping establish Christianity in what is now Germany. Killed in the mid-700's, he is the patron saint of Germany where he remains an important historical figure.
The statue once overlooked the entryway to the second St. Boniface Church, which was built on Gregory Street in 1887 to serve the city's German-Catholic community, says John Curran, a member of the church. The building has been described by architecture historians as one of Rochester's great Gothic Revival structures, boasting a spire reaching nearly 200 feet high.
But a fire reduced the church to rubble in 1957. St. Boniface Church was rebuilt in a more contemporary architectural style, but the statue got carted off with much of the wreckage from the fire and seemed lost to obscurity until a few years ago.
James Jerris, an estate liquidator and owner of the Trading Post in Avon, New York, came across it while clearing a property in Irondequoit, Curran says. Jerris donated the statue back to the church.
The cleaned and restored statue will be placed on the greenspace in front of St. Boniface Church. It will be unveiled at a homecoming event on Sunday, June 5, a day when Catholics around the world remember the saint.