PEORIA — No one knows when the hand went missing on the statue of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount section of Springdale Cemetery, but on Wednesday, rain did not stop cemetery officials from celebrating its return with a dedication ceremony and news conference.

“It’s been that way as long as I can remember,” said Mark Matuszak, cemetery general manager. “It could have been missing for 30 years.”

The hand was re-created by Heritage Restoration and Design Inc., a Peoria firm that restores everything from pianos to stained glass windows. The business was founded in Bavaria in 1820, and the family immigrated to the U.S. in 1965.

“It took a little over four months to re-create the hand,” said Michael Berlinger, the great-great-grandson of the founder. Berlinger runs the business with his four sons. “Matching the existing marble was a little bit difficult." The hand was stained and dyed to match the existing marble.

Restoring the hand became a priority to the Springdale Historic Preservation Foundation about a year and a half ago, when Bill Winkler, owner of Peoria Charter Coach, noticed the hand was missing while riding his bicycle through the historic cemetery.

“When Jesus blessed, he was known to raise his hand up, and his hand was not there,” Winkler said during the news conference. “It just broke my heart.”

The project was one of two recently funded by the Springdale Historic Preservation Foundation, a group that has raised more than $2 million for restoration, capital improvements and equipment for the cemetery since its founding more than 20 years ago.

The second restoration project dedicated Wednesday was the 130-year-old Bastow-Petherbridge family burial site. The walkway tiles and supports were reset, and a large dead tree was removed.

“These tiles have a three-dimensional effect,” said Matuszak. “If you stand on the top of the hill and look down, you will see it. It’s phenomenal.”

Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.