NEW ULM – A major effort to restore the Way of the Cross shrine located in New Ulm is underway. Completed in 1904 and entrusted to the Diocese of New Ulm, the historic shrine is a pathway of 14 stations depicting scenes of the crucifixion of Jesus. The statuary of the Way of the Cross was made by the Bavarian Royal Academy of Art in Munich, Germany. Each station is labeled in both German and English.
Restoration will be no simple task. According to Earl LaPlante, a member of the Way of the Cross committee and one of many caretakers of the 114-year-old shrine, the statuary was removed Aug. 23 following a condition report provided by the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis. “The statues have been sent to Restorations Plus in St. Louis where they are being repaired, cleaned, and stripped of the existing paint, paying close attention to detail so they can be brought back to their original condition and color when they were first installed in 1904,” LaPlante said.
LaPlante said that the niches that protect the statuary have already been repaired, cleaned, and painted by a local company, resulting in the appearance of their original look. “A number of the interior of the niches had moisture damage,” LaPlante said. “The damage has been removed and the interior repainted close to the original light blue color,” he said.
Due to weathering and wood decay, LaPlante said that all the arch top windows of the niches are being replaced, also by a local company. “The new windows on the front of each niche will replicate the original windows and provide improved weather and insect protection to the interior of the niches and statues,” he explained.
LaPlante expects the statuary to be back in place hopefully by January if the weather conditions permit. “Snow or ice would make conditions dangerous. Therefore, install would need to wait until spring,” he said.
The Way of the Cross shrine is located at 1500 5th North Street, behind the Medical Center in New Ulm. The estimated cost of the restoration project is $34,866. Funding will be covered by donations and/or grants. Contributions can be sent to Diocese of New Ulm, Way of the Cross, 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073.