St. James bust to be on display in Sewickley school
St. James the Greater has come to Sewickley at exactly the right time — in celebration of St. James School's milestone anniversary and Catholic Schools Week.
It was two years in the making, but a bust of the patron saint and the namesake of St. James Church and School soon will be on display in a prominent location at the school, said the Rev. Tom Burke.
The sculptor, Dr. George Berry of Edgeworth, along with his wife, Gloria, and their son, Bill, presented the statue to Burke and Sister Christy Hill, school principal, last week following a special Mass to celebrate the school's 100th anniversary.
St. James is called “the Greater” to distinguish him from the other apostle, also named James, Burke said. St. James preached the Gospel in Spain and then returned to Jerusalem, where he was martyred. He is the patron saint of laborers and pharmacists.
The Rev. James Reid, the church's first pastor, named the parish after the patron saint.
“I was very honored that George made the sculpture for the school in celebrating its 100th anniversary,” Burke said.
He saw the unfinished project at the Berrys' house in Edgeworth a few months ago and was impressed with it.
“He is very gifted. He also made a statue of the head of Christ that is in our church up front near our children's chapel.”
George Berry said the idea for the St. James the Greater bust came from the Rev. Matthew Tosello, the retired priest in residence at St. James who recently presented a lecture on St. James the Greater to St. James students.
“When he found out I sculpt, he approached me and said St. James needed a statue of St. James,” George said.
“We decided that with celebrating Catholic Schools Week that this would be a good time for George to present it to the school,” Burke said.
The bust weighs 45 pounds and is 18 inches high.
“At first I was going to do an life-size figure, but that was a bigger task than I could image, so I did a bust instead,” George said.
To get a better idea of what St. James might have looked like, Berry said he “delved into” some books and came up with an image of the Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth bearing the image of who many believe is Jesus.
“St. James was one of the apostles of Jesus, and it gave me an idea of what a person would have looked like back then,” he said.
The head is made of terra-cotta, and the books placed underneath the bust are a high level of plaster of Paris. He named the top book St. James the Greater and the bottom book is the Bible.
“I couldn't decide at first what the middle book should be, so I decided on “1913. Excellent Minds. Excellent Hearts. 2013,” which is the school's motto,” he said.
The entire sculpture, which took about 100 hours to complete over the course of two years, then was painted with a bronze-like paint and a wax to look like a bronze sculpture.
George began sculpting after he retired in 1990 and took some classes at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley. He has completed about 70 projects over the years, some which are displayed at his home, including busts of himself, Gloria, his sons and three grandsons. He also has done several sculptures of giraffes, one of his favorite subjects.
Gloria Berry said the couple has a long history — three generations worth — with the church and school.
Her aunt, Geraldine Cunningham, who died in July last year, attended from the school in the 1920s. Gloria graduated in the 1940s, and her and George's sons, William G. Berry and George J. Berry III, attended in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.
Gloria, who grew up in the area, and her husband, originally from New York, married 55 years ago, and have been members of the parish for many years.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Party hosts, singer enhance Fourth of July celebrations for Sewickley-area residents
- Little Sewickley Bridge scheduled to open at 5 p.m.
- Quaker Valley board renews church’s lease of Osborne school
- Cyclists’ safety at heart of Sewickley discussion
- Quaker Valley Families await word of kindergarten location