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Artist renovates statue of St. Anthony's patron

Steven Montoya, Cliff Bergera and Father Matthew Brozovic look out at Helper Main Street.
The new statue is inset.

Sun Advocate community editor

The patron saint of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Helper underwent a major renovation recently as local artist Cliff Bergera revived the crumbling statue.

"We pray to St. Anthony every Tuesday," said church member and volunteer Steven Montoya. "While cleaning one day, a piece of the statue crumbled off and hit me in the shoulder. I looked up at the statue's eyes, the eyes that Cliff had painted so beautifully years before, and the statue told me it was in need of repair."

Bergera was again commissioned by the church and the Helper artist started work on the likeness of St. Anthony of Padua on July 18.

"St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things," said Father Matthew Brozovic. "If you have lost something, he is the one who will help you to find it."

Bergera removed the color and finished the likeness in white.

The statue was raised to its pedestal above the church's entrance last Saturday.

"The parishioners of the church were instrumental in aiding us in this project," said Brozovic. "This church is continues to be a landmark on Helper's Main Street and their donations and support have helped to not only beautify the church but the community."

For Bergera, the work had historical as well as community ties.

"The Catholic Church has always been a patron of the arts and I considered it an honor to be able to contribute to St. Anthony's," said Bergera."

According to Catholic Online, there is no more admired saint than St. Anthony of Padua, a doctor of the church. He received the titled from Pope Pius XII because his "teaching were so simple and resounding that even the most unlettered and innocent might understand it."

St. Anthony was 36 when he died. He is typically depicted with a book and the infant Jesus, to whom he appeared.

St. Anthony is referred to as the "finder of lost articles."

There are many interesting writings concerning the life of St. Anthony, including the condition of his remains. Upon exhumation some 336 years after his death, his body was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, according to the Catholic site at

"We couldn't be happier to have our patron back in his rightful place," said Brozovic.

According to the Helper artist, the restoration should be a lasting one.

"It was delicate work," said Bergera. "But I am confident that the techniques used will aid that statue in weathering the harsh Helper winters for many years to come."

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