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'No questions asked': Parishioners pray for return of St. Volodymyr's head

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2019 (438 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The art dealer for the late Leo Mol says he'll pay for repairs to the sculptor's decapitated St. Volodymyr statue in front of a North End church if its head is returned.

"If you get it back, it should be treated with great respect, with the best job done possible," said David Loch, who owns Loch Gallery and worked with Mol starting in 1969.

The vandalized statue of St. Volodymyr at the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga in Winnipeg's North End.

SOLOMON ISRAEL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The vandalized statue of St. Volodymyr at the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga in Winnipeg's North End.

Loch said he read about the Mol statue outside the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga being vandalized sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"I was very disappointed to see that," said Loch, who was friends with Mol who died in 2009. "He holds a very dear part of my heart. He was an incredible human being." If the church doesn't have insurance to cover the statue's repair, Loch said he would pay for it.

"It's important that it get done correctly," said Loch, noting that Mol's statues are "world class" and can be seen around the globe.

Right Rev. Msgr. Michael Buyachok and church members were planning to meet Friday morning to discuss what to do next about the vandalized statue of St. Volodymyr. The bronze statue was blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

'It's such a tragic thing when people don't respect art. It's there to be enjoyed by future generations'

The church on McGregor Street has been contacted by Ukrainian Catholics from across the country wanting to help in whatever way they can, an unidentified employee at the church said Thursday.

The biggest help would be to return the head and the cross removed from the statue — "no questions asked," she said.

Winnipeg police, meanwhile, had made no arrests and had no new information Thursday on their investigation into the statue's decapitation.

Scrap metal dealers in Winnipeg said the Ukrainian Catholic cathedral's monsignor visited them with photos of the statue and asked them to be on the lookout.

No one has come in trying to sell the bronze head of the saint, said a man who answered the phone at Logan Iron and Metal. "We usually don't buy (that kind of thing)." He said they've had people try to sell metal that's been removed from things it likely shouldn't have been removed from. "People are prying off plaques," he said. "We report them if we know who they are."

He said they pay $2 a pound for bronze. The bronze Mol statues are hollow, so if whomever removed the head was doing it for the money, they're out of luck, said Loch.

He wondered how the head was removed, and how it is that no one heard it. If it was knocked off with a sledge hammer or sawed off with a hack saw, it would have made a terrible racket. Loch said he's glad Mol didn't live to see one of his creations desecrated.

"It's such a tragic thing when people don't respect art. It's there to be enjoyed by future generations," said the gallery owner.

"I hope nobody took the head and threw it in the river." The moulds for Mol's statues were destroyed after his death, so the statues can't be replaced, said Loch. There's a larger version of Mol's St. Volodymyr statue in London, which he said could be copied.

"I hope they wouldn't entertain having another artist do another head," said Loch. "It's a bit sacrilegious in my mind."

A woman at Orloff Scrap Metals who declined to give her name was incensed by the decapitation of Mol's saint statue. She's keeping an eye out for anyone trying to sell St. Volodymyr's head.

"If it comes in, we will deal with it," she said firmly. "I really hope whoever did this is found. Leo Mol is very important to Winnipeg's art community. He has some beautiful statues at Assiniboine Park."

There, at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Thursday, all the statues were intact, said Laura Cabak with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. She checked with security to make sure.

"...Everything in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden is as it should be, no signs of trouble, so at this point we have no cause for additional concern or reason to make any changes to our current security practices and routines."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

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