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June 2021 Newsletter

Open hours at the Cathedral will gradually return to “normal” as the parish hires additional maintenance and security staff.

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the Cathedral’s expressive facade. The overarching theme speaks to evangelization and the spreading of Jesus Christ’s gospel. Read on for the story as told by our retired Cathedral Archivist, Celeste Raspanti, Ph.D.

Her Public Face: The Facade

After the Resurrection, and before He ascended into heaven, Christ appeared to His disciples in Galilee.
This moment is depicted in the pedimental sculpture on the facade of the Cathedral.

Leon Hermant, who designed the statues of the Blessed Virgin, Saint Joseph and Saint Peter, designed the tympanum in his first sculptural contribution. John Garatti and his team of carvers executed the design.

[They] spent nearly four years perched high atop a maze of scaffolding obscuring the front of the edifice.

There, using only mallets and chisels, they transformed the large rough mass of stone implanted during the construction. . . . The rigorous effort was worthwhile, for the effect of the Michelangelesque composition was – and indeed remains – scintillating. Chiseled within the pediment immediately beneath the granite cross is a sixty-foot-wide rendition of Christ and the twelve apostles, under which is carved in Latin the great commission: “Go therefore and teach ye all nations.”Matthew 28:19.  
Msgr. Lawrence Ryan, who witnessed the actual carving, wrote: “[It] reminds onlookers in a dramatic way that the Cathedral of St. Paul, like its ancestors in medieval Europe, is not only a house of worship but a great theology book in stone. The lesson which bursts forth from its facade is unmistakably John Ireland’s.”

We hope your summer is filled with sunshine, camaraderie, and good health.