MONROE, Conn. — Midge Saglimbene’s heart sank when she got the first call asking whether she had sold the statue of Jesus of the Sacred Heart that stands watch outside her Main Street religious gift shop, Angels & Company.
“I said, 'No,' and she said, ‘Well, it’s missing,’” said Saglimbene, who has co-owned the store for 16 years with Linda Schirillo. “I thought, 'Oh, no. Who would steal a statue of Jesus?'”
But it turned out it wasn’t so much a thief as a Good Samaritan. Four days after the Oct. 28 “theft,” Jesus was back at his sentry post — but with a fresh coat of vivid paint.
It seems whoever took the weather-worn statue simply wanted to clean him up for the holidays.
“So Jesus was not stolen. He was just getting a makeover!” said Mary Ann Roberte, who also works at Angels and Company. “And he came back on All Saints Day.”
Saglimbene and Roberte said they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of sympathy and support they received once news of the theft hit the media. The store owners have been interviewed by all Connecticut network TV affiliate stations and many newspapers, including The New York Daily News.
They have also received emails from as far as Spain and the Philippines about the case.
“We got one from the Philippines that said, ‘We’re so glad your Jesus is back,’” Saglimbene said. “It’s amazing. It’s the Jesus Network. He knows how to network!”
The store received the statue a few months ago from a Trumbull woman who was moving and couldn’t take it with her. It was worn from being outside and the paint had faded, but the owners placed it outside the store.
When it turned up missing, the women hoped it wasn’t the work of Halloween pranksters.
They’re relieved to see the story has a happy ending.
“I think they just took it to do us a favor and they want to remain anonymous,” Roberte said. “And they did a good job. The detail is amazing.
“Whoever did this knew what they were doing.”