The new baby Jesus head in a churchyard in Sudbury (image via Twitter/PokemonGoMeme12)

The new baby Jesus head in a churchyard in Sudbury (image via Twitter/PokemonGoMeme12)

An artist botched an attempt to replace the stolen head of a baby Jesus statue, causing consternation around a church parish in Sudbury, Ontario.

As Marina von Stackelberg first reported for CBC News, the original head of baby Jesus was snapped off of its stone body by unknown vandals last October. It wasn’t the first time that had happened: “It’s always Jesus’ head that goes missing,” church priest Gérard Lajeunesse told CBC. In the previous instance, the head had been found nearby and reattached to the sculpture. This time, Lajeunesse says he looked “high and low,” but the head of baby Jesus was definitely gone.

Lajeunesse looked into replacing the entire statue — which depicts a crowned Mary holding the Christ child — but it would have cost somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 (without any guarantee the head wouldn’t get stolen again). So, when a local artist offered to create a new head, he said yes.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of those situations where a nice offer isn’t necessarily a good one. The artist proceeded to take orange clay — the kind used for terracotta — and shape it into a head that looks like Lisa Simpson crossed with King Triton. It is, in other words, the awesome second coming of Beast Jesus.

Alas, that’s not even the end of the story. The local, as-yet-unnamed artist sculpted her clay masterpiece directly onto baby Jesus’s white stone body and then left it there — no kiln, no firing, no nothing. Consequently, the head has already started to erode due to rain, after being in place less than a week. I don’t know where this “artist” took “art lessons,” but she should go there and demand her money back.

This very same artist is scheduled to sculpt a new stone replacement head for baby Jesus next year. With any luck, she’ll keep the freakish face and color, save the city of Sudbury (or at least the parish of Ste. Anne des Pins) in the process, and make enough money to retire.

Update, 10/24: An anonymous woman has returned the missing head of baby Jesus to Ste. Anne des Pins. According to the CBC, parish priest Gérald Lajeunesse revealed the returned head to his congregation during Sunday mass.

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...