By Jen Cardone | The Duquesne Duke
A significant symbol of Duquesne was removed on Nov. 26 from its memorable location on the path to the Rangos School of Health Sciences and Rockwell Hall.
The Crucifix, commonly referred to as “Scary Jesus,” started to show signs of deterioration, according to executive director of facilities management Rodney Dobish.
“We noticed some of the anchors looked to be unstable that were holding up the statue,” Dobish said. “We found that there was a risk there, so we decided to get a new cross made and will have the statue refinished.”
According to Dobish and director of maintenance Dana Miller, Matthew’s Bronze Company will be refinishing the statue. It will take approximately 12 weeks to complete and cost between $20,000 and $25,000.
Additionally, Dobish and Miller said the Boswell Lumber Company will take the old cross and recycle the wood to create a new one.
“They won’t get a lot from it because it has rotted from being exposed to the elements. It has been up for 54 years,” Dobish said.
Work on the cross will cost an additional $18,000 and take around 12 weeks to complete, starting in January.
When the new Crucifix returns to campus, it will reside in a new location on the grassy area close to the Rockwell Hall skywalk. Dobish said that maintenance crews will install lighting to make it visible at night.
“We think it will be done in March, weather permitting to do the install,” Dobish said, “I think they want to have it in an area to allow people to reflect on it.”
Tom White, the archivist at Duquesne, has records of the Duquesne Women’s Guild providing $6,000 in funds to purchase the cross from an artist in 1958. It was created in 1959, and then dedicated in 1960.
Artist and sculptor Jose Pirkner created the statue in 1959 in his studio in Holland, according to a story in The Duke on Jan. 24, 2008. The statue was commissioned by former Duquesne president Rev. Vernon F. Gallagher.
Linda Roeder, Women’s Guild president, said the organization has been in existence for 85 years, and is for any female parent, employee or alum that cares about Duquesne admissions.
“We raise funds and donate them back to the University,” Roeder said.
While there is no specific explanation for why the Women’s Guild paid for the Crucifix in 1958, Roeder said the president of the board at the time “must have thought it would be a nice idea.”