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Saint Francis of the Guns

ARG Conservation Services, Inc. / Saint Francis of the Guns

Saint Francis of the Guns

Beniamino Bufano created Saint Francis of the Guns, a nearly -foot-tall metal sculpture of the robed Catholic saint, St. Francis of Assisi, with his arms spread in a peaceful greeting. On the lower torso, a mosaic depicts four assassinated American leaders (John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln) above a children’s choir. The sculpture was dedicated by Mayor George Moscone, who was himself assassinated eighteen months after its creation.

Allegedly, Bufano created the sculpture from two-thousand handguns obtained during San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto’s voluntary gun turn-in program in 1968. It is said that he mixed bronze with the gunmetal to keep it from corroding in the city’s foggy weather. To date, no analytical work has been completed to confirm the quality of the metal of the proportion of alloys used in its creation.

ARG Conservation Services (ARG/CS) was contracted by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) to perform conservation treatments on Bufano’s Saint Francis of the Guns sculpture, located at City College of San Francisco. The metal sculpture, and the tile mosaic it features, is supported by a concrete base. The goals of the treatment plan were to stabilize materials, perform a chromatic integration of the existing patina, and provide a sacrificial coating to the tile mosaic.

Conservation work included: a general cleaning of the monument with water and a diluted conservation-grade detergent, the application of several coats of both pigmented and clear wax on metal elements, re-grouting the tile mosaic, the application of a sacrificial anti0-graffiti coating on the mosaic, and color integration of the concrete base. All work was carried out in accordance with the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work’s Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.


Conservation Treatments


San Francisco Arts Commission


San Francisco, California


Finishes, Public Art, Sculptures