The earliest recorded artwork of Damien de Vuester was a painting by British Lord Edward Clifford.
Damien is said to have looked at the original sketch and said, "Oh, what an ugly face."
The world disagrees, seeing the nobility and kindness in that ravaged countenance, captured in oils, pastels, chalk, tile, and now koa.
"The artist, Dale Zarrella, carved the statue without intent of appearing the way it is," said Rev. Lane Akiona of St. Augustine's Church.
Akiona said the grain of the wood dictated the final product.
Like most sculptors, the artist didn't make just one. A duplicate statue was fashioned in bronze. It now sits in the Vatican, a gift to Pope Benedict XVI before his abdication.
It is hoped the statue will eventually be assigned to one of the outdoor alcoves circling St. Peter's Square.
The church offered these gifts, not only as artistic expression, but for public education, prompting some to ask questions about Rev. Damien.
Zarrella, from Maui, is working on a statue of Mother Marianne in a different local wood. Both pieces will sit in St. Augustine's sainthood museum, planned for this plot of land in front of the church on Kalakaua Avenue.
If all goes well, construction of the museum will start this December. The facility will include a backyard meditation garden with other pieces of art inspired by Hawaii's saints.
The museum is scheduled to begin construction in December.
In July, two statues of Brother Joseph Dutton will be arriving from China.
A community campaign is also underway to have Damien's loyal assistant eventually named Hawaii's 3rd saint.
Those statues will be installed on Moloka'i.