Twenty-year wait for saints to march back in

FOR the last two decades Pat Gavan’s impressive collection of rare religious artefacts have been gathering dust in his garage.

The grandfather spends a fortune on heating bills to keep the marble and granite collection of 13 life sized statues of saints in tip top condition, fearing they may crumble if exposed to cold.

He became custodian of the statues, some which date back to 1857 and include Our Lady, St Theresa, St Anthony, St Thomas A Beckett and St Philomena.

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They became homeless after Mount St Mary’s Church closed down in June 1989.

The grandfather, 78, who was church carpenter and chairman of the trustees, said: “I am really fond of them and do take care of them. They are kept under high security with cameras on them due to their rarity. They cost a fortune to keep warm during the cold winter months. They are fine in the summer, but I fear they may crumble.

“I am waiting for the day when I see them march back into Mount St Mary’s, but development work to make them into flats has been put on hold, due to the recession. We were hoping to put them back in their rightful home, once work was complete.”

The listed building in Richmond Hill was set to become a heritage centre and flats with planning permission approved.

Mr Gavan has written a book about the church’s history, has kept the granite and marble statues warm and dry with the help of two small heaters.

He has paid for the hefty heating bills out of his own pocket. He also has other statues in his home including one of Our Lady in his bedroom, but says the ceiling could not take the weight af any more.

Over the years Mr Gavan has welcomed many visitors, some from as far as America, who have come to visit the statues.

He said: “I just hope that after all this time I live long enough to see the saints back where they belong; in the church built with money from the poor Irish of Leeds in the 19th century.”