With the January 2018 closing of St. Joseph’s Chapel in Battery Park City came the liberation of John Collier’s Statues of Patron Saints.
Once cramped in their dark alcoves behind the alter of St. Joseph’s, the four pale gold saints now breathe freely on the balcony of St. Peter’s Church, looking out over Barclay Street.
Their pained yet brave faces are intended to reflect the spirit of those who died on 9/11 and those who participated in the rescue and recovery effort. St. Florian honors the firefighters and EMS workers, St. Michael honors the officers of the NYPD and Port Authority Police, St. Joseph honors the men who died that day and those who simply went to work, and St. Mary Magdalene honors the women who died that day and all those who perished on the planes that flew into the towers.
Collier’s sculptures were influenced by Auguste Rodin and his Burghers of Calais, which commemorates a particularly horrific event of the Hundred Year’s War. Both Rodin and Collier employed a sculpting technique that dates back to ancient Greece, where a wet drape is placed over a model to bring a dynamic and lifelike form to the work.
Settled in their new home on the quiet balcony on the corner of Church and Barclay, the Statues of Patron Saints invite curious passers-by to mount the stone steps of St. Peter’s Church and offer a peaceful place for faithful worshipers to pray.