In Tuesday's post, [The Mystery Saint] I related the story of a recent addition to our parish's garden area. I referred to the statue, pictured at left, as the "Mystery Saint" as there was (is) a bit of confusion as to the identity of the saint the statue represents.
The statue was originally given to our (late) former pastor, Father Miceli who kept it in the rectory garage. Our new pastor, Father Patrick, decided to bring it outside for all to see. However, no one knew who the saint was supposed to be and an Internet search was initiated to discover the name. According to the most recent church bulletin (page 5 of this pdf):
"After a vast Internet search and several inquires, one company responded: ' By a process of elimination, we have determined that your statue is St. Jerome. Based on our research, there were four doctors of the Western Church. These four doctors were traditionally pictured with a church in their arms. Of the four Patrons of the Western Church, St. Gregory, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose and St. Jerome, St. Jerome is the only one not a Bishop. Because he is sculpted without a miter - the traditional ceremonial headdress of Bishops of the Catholic Church - the mystery statue must be St. Jerome.' "
I have a problem with that assessment, however.
Take a look at the statues of St. Jerome below. (Click on images to enlarge). Our statue does not resemble any of these. In none of these statues of St. Jerome is he holding a Church. If anything, he holds a Bible. (He was responsible for translating the Vulgate into Latin. )
Comparing the known statues of St. Jerome to our mystery statue, I am convinced that ours is not of St. Jerome.
Who is it?
At first, I thought the statue represented St. Stephen. I based that assumption on these images found on this website.
As we see, St. Stephen is holding a Church in his left hand. In his right hand, St. Stephen is holding an incense burner. That fits with the fact that our statue was holding something at one time.
I have, after posting my previous post, come to change my mind about our mystery statue being of St. Stephen. The images above come from the Greek Orthodox tradition. I've since learned that, in the Roman Catholic tradition, St. Stephen is usually portrayed holding, not a church, but stones - he was stoned to death.
If not St. Stephen, who is it?
The best argument I've seen, since blogging this, comes from Mary Ann of Les Femmes - the Truth, who believes the statue is of St. Bernard. Her post and photos are most convincing.
While this may not settle the issue, if I were to bet on this, I would put my money on St. Bernard.