The following comes from an August 9 Napa Valley Register article by Chloe F. Johnson:

The first thing you notice walking into Jim and Vicki Asbury’s house in Browns Valley is that it is full of grandchildren and pets. The second thing you notice is the life-size statue of Jesus at the top of the front staircase.

Jim Asbury, a retired construction company owner and longtime Napa resident, has been collecting Catholic statuary for over 20 years. He has about 40 of the statues in the house, plus several smaller figurines.

Since learning that many Catholic churches and schools have phased out elaborate religious iconography in recent decades, he has “adopted” the figures in the effort to get them back into churches.
“Some of the people think we’re kind of strange for collecting so many of them,” Asbury said.

Asbury has rescued discarded Catholic statues from closed churches, bought them from antique stores, and found them online. He has given several to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Napa. Others have gone to churches and convents around California and the nation.

Asbury converted to Catholicism in 1991, after hearing a particularly moving eulogy from a priest at a friend’s funeral. Although his family was Baptist, Asbury said he had never been very religious until that moment.

“I felt I was a Christian, but I saw organized religion as a crutch,” he said. “I guess I got the tap on the shoulder.”

Despite some earthquake damage to the statue collection, it still features prominently in the decor of the three-story house, with several religious figures in every room. Among the most valuable pieces are a life-size Virgin Mary statue from 1890 and a nativity scene from the 18th century, both of which suffered only minimally.

“The statues are made to give us comfort,” Asbury said. As a bonus, he added, “I think anyone who would burglarize this house would just turn around.”