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New Dome at National Shrine will be Wonder says Cardinal

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New Dome at National Shrine will be Wonder says Cardinal

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Builders, church
leaders, choir members and journalists gathered atop eight floors of
scaffolding — 159 feet high — in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the
Immaculate Conception Oct. 28 for the blessing of the workspace where a new mosaic
will be installed on the shrine’s Trinity Dome.

“It will be a wonder to behold,” said Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of
the dome, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The mosaic will depict
the Trinity, Mary and 13 saints associated with the United States or the
national shrine, the four evangelists and words from the Nicene Creed.

The finished dome also will mark the completion of the national shrine, according to the
original architectural plans for the church set to mark its centennial in 2020
— the 100th anniversary of the placement of its foundational stone.

During the blessing, Cardinal Wuerl offered prayers for the success of the project and
the safety of the workers involved. He said the shrine puts into “image
form” the message of the Gospel and does so “in a way that everyone can
bask in its beauty.”

He said the finished dome, with its particular emphasis on American saints, will remind
people of the “face of who we are and the face of God.” He also said it
will reflect “living images of God and living images of everything we are
capable of being.”

In introductory remarks, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine,
stressed the parallels between the mosaic design on the dome and the very
character of the shrine itself — often described as America’s Catholic church
— representing a mosaic of Catholic parishioners from every corner of the

He said a special one-time collection for the dome work will take place on
Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017. The last time a national collection was done for
the shrine was in 1953 when it was being built.

Both Cardinal Wuerl and Msgr. Rossi noted that the scaffolding itself, allowing the
workers to complete the work on the dome, was an engineering feat. Work on the
scaffolding began early this year.

The mosaic work is being done at the Travisanutto Giovanni mosaic company in Spilimbergo, Italy, and will be shipped to the national shrine in
30,000 sections weighing 24 tons and composed of more than 14 million pieces of

Cardinal Wuerl, who blessed the work site, the workers and those present, urged the
group of about 90 people at the ceremony to be sure they touched the wall of
the dome before they left “because you’ll never have a chance to do it

Remind yourself, he said, that this is “the completion of a 100-year project”
which reflects to whoever comes in this building that God is with us.

“Remember today for a number of reasons,” the cardinal added. “First of all you
were here. You were here at a moment in history.”

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Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.


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