The installation of a new statue at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery depicts a scenario of motherhood often repeated with young children.
Mother Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, holds a toddler Jesus whose dangling shoe is the result of his hasty retreat into his mother’s arms.
“There are so many Marian statues with the child Jesus and I made mention of the shoe, and that it is a distinguishing feature,” said Fr. Greg Schlarb, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Scottsdale, the namesake of both the statue and the new section of the cemetery.
“It’s not uncommon for me to walk through the church and find a shoe,” he said.
Standing six feet tall, the 700-pound bronze sculpture was blessed by Fr. Schlarb Jan. 25 in front of an intimate crowd gathered on the north side of Resurrection Mausoleum, the OLPH cemetery section.
Carrier Mausoleum Construction Company and Bronces Jordá of Spain were commissioned to develop the original design, which features a hand-rubbed antique finish.
“We were taken aback by the depth and contour of Mary’s face,” said Michael Espinoza, manager of cemetery development for Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes.
Originally scheduled for a December installation in time to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the statue was detained for several weeks in customs.
Diane Triebsch from St. Theresa Parish said she braved the windy, winter afternoon to participate in the blessing.
“I try to take advantage of opportunities to participate in anything the Church offers,” she said, who has two family members in the cemetery. “I wish more people knew about the beautiful statuaries in the whole cemetery.”
The OLPH statue is now the focal point of the section that includes lawn crypts, full body burial spaces and cremation benches.