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St. Michael's 125th

Stories

From Pietrasanta to Toronto


The statue of St. Michael the Archangel currently stands in the Bond St. lobby.

In 1997, as the statue of St. Michael the Archangel was about to be moved to the Cardinal Carter lobby, movers found the words “Daprato Statuary C. Chicago. New York. Pietrasanta, Italy” inscribed onto the stonework on the back of the base. The discovery added to the questions already surrounding the statue.

A recent third-party appraisal has filled in some of the blanks. The statue was made by Daprato Rigali Studios, which was originally founded as Daprato Statuary Company in 1860 in Chicago, Illinois, by the four Daprato brothers, statue makers who immigrated from Barga, Italy.

The statue is made of Italian Carrara marble from Daprato Statuary Company’s quarry in Pietrasanta, Italy – the same location where Michelangelo procured the marble for his famous sculpture, La Pietà. According to Daprato, the St. Michael statue is “a very fine example of our past marble creations.”

While the precise date remains unknown, the appraiser surmises that it was likely created in the early 20th century, after 1903, when Daprato had offices in only Chicago and New York – the two cities named on the statue.

Back then, the statue was found – blackened with soot and grime – in a second-hand store on Queen St. by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Using funds from the sale of old newspapers, they purchased the statue for $49.

On April 23, 2016, the statue was moved back to the historic Bond Lobby, where it stood from its purchase until 1996. Katelyn Poyntz, the Engineering project manager, was responsible for coordinating the move. Significant upfront planning was required, from a risk assessment to engaging a move consultant, planning the best path of travel, and custom carpentry and stonework for the pillar.

On a quiet Saturday morning, the movers slid the statue from its base onto a pump truck, rolled it down the corridor to a set of stairs, added wooden blocks onto the stairs to turn them into a level surface, lowered the statue from the wooden platform to the lower level, and slid it into place on its new pillar.

It was a careful process, considering the statue’s size – 1.5 metres tall and 680 kilograms – and its significance to the hospital. “But, someone’s always looking out for it,” said Poyntz. “When we first moved it, we had some issues with dirt buildup on the stone … I told the move consultant, and then when I walked by that afternoon, she was sitting cross legged, on the granite platform, with Q-tips cleaning around the edge of the statue … That’s the sort of response that the statue provokes.”

The statue will reside in the historical entrance until it is transferred to its permanent home in the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower. Then and now, it will continue to serve as a symbol of strength, hope and healing for patients, their families and the hospital staff.

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