The statue was a scaled replica of the famous statue of St. Peter which stands in the Vatican Basilica and is attributed to the thirteenth century sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio. The original model for the sculpture can be seen in the Basilica’s crypt, where there can be found a classical sculpture of a seated philosopher which has been transformed into a christianised image of the Prince of the Apostles teaching from his cathedra.
In St. Aloysius’ parish records there survives a papal grant giving this same indulgence to the Newman Society’s statue and Fr. Martindale’s history of the parish records that it was much venerated by people entering and leaving the church.
The statue was removed from the church and decapitated (!) several decades ago. The head was rescued by a parishioner and has recently been returned to the parish. It can now be seen in the Oratory House, where it serves as a sad reminder of the reprehensible destruction of so much of our Catholic patrimony falsly carried out in the name of the Second Vatican Council (see below).
The above photograph has recently come to light. The astute observer will notice that the marbled base of the sculpture is now used as a plinth for St. Joseph’s statue in the church.
The Fathers of Vatican II on sacred art:
Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest expressions of human genious. This judgment applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. By their very nature both of the latter are related to God’s boundless beauty …
The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they may be venerated by the faithful is to be firmly maintained …
Ordinaries must be very careful to see that sacred furnishings and works of value are not disposed of or allowed to deteriorate; for they are ornaments of the house of God.
(Vatican II, S.C., 122, 125, 126)