Shuttered Catholic churches leave artifacts behind

 

Every good beauty makeover begins with a vision. From there, a make-up artist will use foundation, blush, and mascara to create a new look.

A Cleveland, Ohio man has taken his love of helping people look beautiful in a different direction, and in the process, provides salvation for religious statues.

The List stopped by a once shuttered church sanctuary that's now home to dozens of homeless spiritual symbols.

"What we're doing is really, really important," said Lou McClung.

You could call McClung a "statue-savior."

"I have a lot of passion for it," said McClung.

In 2009, Catholic churches started closing in his hometown of Cleveland Ohio.

"When these churches were built, whoever thought they were going to shut them down," said McClung.

McClung, worried about what was left behind, came to the rescue of these religious artifacts, purchasing many of them from the local Diocese.

"This artwork to me is very beautiful artwork and it's sacred, but it also represents the people who sacrificed everything to put it here," added McClung.

As a professional make-up artist, he brought his beauty-skills to a different clientele, restoring statues, like this one, that someone spray painted white.

"When a piece comes in like that I have to do my homework and really know what that piece should have looked like 100-years ago," said McClung.

His homework check-list includes looking at photos of old statues, historic churches and manufacturer's catalogs. It can take up to 60-hours to bring a piece back to its original condition.

Lou not only rescues and restores statues from Cleveland, his reach is nationwide, working for private collectors and churches in cities across the country. McClung's dedication and talent can be seen all under one roof at his Museum of Divine Statues in Lakewood, Ohio.

"We're here to inspire everybody," said McClung.

The former church sanctuary now provides salvation to dozens of statues and a place for prayer and meditation.

"When you can set your eyes on a piece of art or a statue and it looks realistic, the idea is you can keep your focus," said McClung.

McClung is focused on the future, and with the possibility of more Catholic churches closing, his work is far from over.

 "It's definitely a calling – that's the only way I can explain where that comes from," said McClung.

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