Papal Altar Receives Transformation in National Shrine

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Papal Altar Receives Transformation in National Shrine

Two of the Catholic University architecture students who designed the altar to be used by Pope Francis saw the altar in a whole new way today. The altar was moved to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception just over a week ago. Since then, David Donor, an artist who specializes in faux painting, has been applying layers of paint to transform the wooden structure to match the marble already in place at the Basilica.

In addition to using rollers and brushes to apply the paint, he also uses sponges and even a simple pencil eraser to create the textured marble look.

“I thought there were slabs of real stone lying off to the side, but they are the painted panels that will be inserted into the arches,” said Ariandne Cerritelli, one of the student-designers. “I had no idea it would look so real!”

The altar will be used at the Mass celebrated by the Pope on Sept. 23, 2015, on the steps of the Basilica overlooking CUA’s campus. After that Mass, it will be used in the Great Upper Church of the Shrine.

“I’m most excited to see it in its permanent location when it’s installed,” said Matthew Hoffman, student-designer.

The designers were able to talk to the craftsmen working on the altar and Basilica Rector Monsignor Walter Rossi about their intentions in design and some of the details that are still being worked out.

Donor has spent approximately 60 hours working on the altar so far, working 8- to 12-hour days.

Painting the Altar for the Pope’s Mass from CUA Video on Vimeo.


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