Cafeteria worker, professor and president come together to restore St. Anthony and the Child Jesus statue


A mystery helper has been revealed; a cafeteria line worker’s heart has been touched, and the statue of St. Anthony and the Child Jesus in Antonian Hall has been restored and repainted.

Last semester, Sodexo employee Anna Marie Sadler noticed that after construction had taken place in the cafeteria over an academic break, the 4-foot statue of St. Anthony and the Child Jesus had been chipped and broken in certain sections. It was also out of the way so it could not be seen well by those in the cafeteria.

“During construction it got shoved into the back area,” Sadler said. “Baby Jesus’ foot and fingers and St. Anthony’s habit were all scratched up.”

This sorely disappointed Sadler, and she started inquiring as to how it could get fixed. After weeks of being referred and not getting very far, she went to Franciscan University’s president, the Rev. Sean Sheridan, TOR, who, before Christmas break, said he would get back to her.

“I just thought it was disrespectful,” Sadler went on. “It bothered me that the statue was just passed around.”

When Sadler returned after Christmas break, the statue was restored, repainted and put back in its former place. After something of a mystery, it was revealed that Linus D. Meldrum, a professor of art at Franciscan University, was responsible for the repairs after being contacted by Sheridan.

“If possible, artwork should be preserved in good condition,” Meldrum said. “Especially if the image is one that is intended to guide your thinking toward a prayerful state of mind. I was asked by a member of the community to see if I could do the repair.”

After two hours of work in Antonian Hall, Meldrum had finished his work.

“I rebuilt the missing part of the foot by inserting some support wires and packing, and then sculpting air-dry clay in the area of the foot,” Meldrum continued.  “After it dried, I painted it to match the rest of the foot with acrylic paint, which also sealed the dried clay. I also added a bit of paint to some other damaged areas of the sculpture.”

Sadler was extremely grateful for the work done on the statue.

“Whoever you are who fixed it up, just know that St. Anthony thanks you; Baby Jesus thanks you, and I thank you,” she said.

Meldrum was encouraged by the fact that someone noticed that the image needed repair.

Now Meldrum simply asks, “If you pass by the sculpture, don’t bump it.”