Cannaday puts the pieces back together repairing statues

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — About 20 years ago, Pat Cannaday was doing prison ministry at the East Moline, Illinois, Correctional Center. There she met Father Jerry Logan, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.

He asked whether she knew how to fix statues. He had a life-size St. Jude statue with a hole in it and a St. Joseph statue with some nicks. She did not know how to fix statues, but the request led her on a journey to develop that skill. “I told him to put it in the car and I would see what I could do,” Cannaday said after going to the parish where he was serving.

Anne Marie Amacher
Pat Cannaday cleans a marble statue at Holy Family Church in Davenport.

She contacted a friend whose mother fixed statues and asked for guidance on how to do some of the work. Over the years Cannaday, a member of Holy Family Parish in Davenport, has experimented with different methods and different mediums to repair damaged and broken statues. “Every statue is a different challenge,” she said.

About a year ago she heard about a statue at John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport that had been knocked over by accident. The school planned to dispose of the statue, but she asked if she could take a look. “It was pretty damaged,” she said, describing the statue as looking like a bunch of puzzle pieces. She took it home anyway to repair and paint.

A unique feature of the statue, in Cannaday’s mind, is the beige color of Mary’s cloak. Typically it is a light blue. She felt the need to leave the original color even though she could have changed it. Cannaday took pictures throughout the repair process. The statue is back at the school, in a higher location.

Cannaday said she has encountered a number of mediums to work on from plaster to metal to marble for example. Mother Susan Rueve of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher in Davenport had a metal statue in need of repair. Cannaday said she consulted some workers at an auto repair shop to find an epoxy-type material to make repairs.

Earlier this year she was cleaning marble statues at Holy Family Church. “I had to research methods on how to clean marble,” she said. “It’s a learning experience.” Any time she tries something new, she always does a test on the back side — just in case something doesn’t quite work out as planned.

While researching marble, Cannaday learned that it needs to be sealed every few months. The statues at the church likely weren’t sealed much over the decades. Some statues had coats of soot, especially those closer to candles.

After the former St. Joseph Church in Dav­enport closed, Cannaday saw two statues in a dumpster. She retrieved them and made inquiries of people she thought might want the statues. Father Logan did. “He loved saints. He also had a great devotion to Mary.”

Shortly before Father Logan died, Cannaday worked on a life-size statue for him. He lived in the rectory of Sacred Heart Parish in Rock Island, Illinois, at the time. The two discussed the possibility of providing a room at the parish for her to do statue repair work. “We planned to make a shop, but he got sick and passed away two days before it was to open.”

Her work has been free of charge to priests and parishes. “It’s hard to charge for the work. Each piece is a challenge and an accomplishment. I also pray for whomever I am doing the repair for and to the saint that I am fixing.” She often recites the Chaplet of Divine Mercy while working.

To contact Cannaday about statue repairs email her at patcannaday@ or call (563) 528-6724.


Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *