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Bronze statues removed from Brussels church over safety concerns

The façade of St. Joseph's Church on Square Frère-Orban in Brussels (Google Streetview)
10:37 16/08/2021

Sixteen bronze statues adorning the St Joseph's Church on Square Frère-Orban in Brussels have been removed over safety concerns. The statues, which weigh over 900 kilos each, and a stone cross which weighs close to three tons, have been taken down over fears that they may fall off the church. The statues and cross have been removed as a precaution before restoration work on the church’s neo-Renaissance façade can take place.

"It is a miracle that none of these statues have already fallen off the church," according to Romuald Casier of Atelier ARC Architecture et Patrimoine, the firm responsible for the renovation. Action was taken quickly after church officials noticed some fractures, including some on the pedestals of the statues. "We asked for the statues to be removed as soon as possible after that," added Romuald Casier.

There are doubts over who some of the sixteen bronze statues represent. Eight statues may be of professions such as carpenter and bricklayer while the other eight other statues are saints.

Several experts will study the statues before the real restoration work can start. "No one has been able to see these statues up close since 1849 when the blue stone façade was finished," said Casier. "The stones have been affected by nature,” he added. “We have to restore the façade, but we are not going to change anything about its appearance."

It is not yet clear how much the work will cost. According to the architectural firm responsible for the restoration, the amount could rise to several million euros. The restoration should be completed by 2024.