BUFFALO, N.Y. — Today's Most Buffalo Story of the Day takes us to Corpus Christi Church in Buffalo where in March of 2019, we talked with Father Michal Czyżewski about a mysterious painting that he found in the church's basement.
"I was thinking, wow, this is a beautiful story, and I'm a part of the story, and to people who watch this news, listen to these words, they can also participate in this beautiful story or beautiful journey with St. Joseph," Father Michal Czyżewski said when we interviewed him in March of 2019.
The painting was really damaged, and the work to restore it would cost thousands of dollars. Some of it had even been torn and the paint was peeling off.
So the parish did a fundraiser, which was a success, and off the painting went on a journey to be restored and to see if it would reveal any of its mysterious past.
Fast forward two years, to Wednesday of this week, when Father Czyżewski saw the fully restored painting of Saint Joseph for the first time.
"We'd like to present you the image of Saint Joseph with baby Jesus. As you can see, the image looks amazing, and this looks like new," says Fr. Czyżewski.
And the people who fixed it were able to figure out more about it by looking at the style of the painting and the types of pigments used - since it isn't dated or signed. They suspect the oil painting is about 150 years old, and it might be the work of three or four artists.
"He can tell that probably one person painted the lily, the other person, the dress of Saint Joseph, the other person, maybe face, or the other person the baby Jesus. This is like a beautiful mystery for us how the painting was created, what kind of artist made this. It's some theory that maybe some Sisters who lived here in the convent, and the convent was also dedicated to Saint Joseph, maybe they painted this image, but we don't know for sure," Father Czyżewski said.
It's also pretty big, about seven feet tall, and once it's on display again, the whole community will be able to see it which takes on special meaning in the year of Saint Joseph.
"He holds baby Jesus very close to his heart. Maybe this is also the moment that Saint Joseph can hold us and provide us to Jesus in this difficult time of the pandemic, in this difficult time when people lose beloved ones, maybe we can ask Saint Joseph to protect us and give us opportunity to be strong," Father Czyżewski said.
This Sunday, during the 9:30 a.m. Mass, Corpus Christi will have a special ceremony bringing the painting back to the church.
The parish also plans to use any new donations for the painting to buy a frame for it. If you'd like to find out how to help with that fundraiser, you can contact the church at (716) 896-1050.