Famous Belfast Christ statue tumbles from cross after years of wear and tear
As far back as the Second World War, a religious statue has stood tall on the Falls Road.
It survived the Belfast Blitz and 30 years of the Troubles. But this week the landmark figure of the crucified Jesus Christ outside St Paul's Church finally gave in to wear and tear and fell from its cross.
"It's been there for a long time," said Down and Connor spokesman Fr Eddie Magee.
"The statue itself was attached to the cross with iron connectors.
"It looks like one has rusted away over the years, and it has eventually just fallen down through wear and tear."
But for people alarmed by the absence of the familiar west Belfast sight, Fr Magee is confident the statue - or a very close replica - will be back in place before long.
"It's going to be appraised by experts to see if it's fixable," he said.
"If it is, it will be mended and put back in its place, but if the advice is it's just too old, then we will organise a replacement modelled very closely on the original. We're not sure exactly how long this will take. If it's a case of fixing it, then I imagine that will be quicker than if we have to get another statue made.
"Either way, though, we'll have it back in place as soon as we can because we know how important it is for people in the area.
"The costs for the repair or replacement will be covered by the church and at this stage we don't think we need to organise any fundraising pay for it."
The statue, which has stood for decades under trees across from the Royal Victoria Hospital, was discovered on Wednesday after falling from its 20ft cross overnight. It was carefully removed by the curate and sacristan.
Yesterday a statement was released by St Peter's Cathedral Parish to reassure locals concerned following an arson attack at St Patrick's Catholic Church on Donegall Street on Monday that no maliciousness was involved.
It said: "The figure of Our Lord was not damaged deliberately; the metal rod which attached the figure had become weakened due to weathering."
According to historical papers, the Passion of Christ statue could be seen by a German airman lit up in the night as he flew over the city during the Blitz.
St Paul's Church celebrated its first Mass in 1887.