DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     September 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 185

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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        VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- After months of repair work, the scaffolding that has hidden the facade of St. Peter's Basilica is finally disappearing.

        On September 30, the Vatican will formally unveil the renovated facade of the basilica, at a ceremony attended by the Italian president and members of the international diplomatic corps. Pope John Paul II-- having recently returned from his summer residence in Castel Gandalfo-- will bless the new facade, a choir will perform the Te Deum of Charpentier, and Eurovision will televise the event.

        The renovation process has produced a dramatic change in the appearance of the ancient building, and the enormous facade is now resplendent in bright white stone-- quite unlike the darkened stone that can now be found only on postcards and old pictures of St. Peter's.

        The Italian petroleum company ENI, which provided $5.4 million for the renovation process, has already issued a statement proclaiming its "satisfaction and pride" with the results. ENI began the process of restoring the white stone in March 1997, aiming to demonstrate that modern technology can solve environmental problems.

        In this case, the restoration provided an enormous challenge: the work subsidized by ENI entailed removing the cumulative effect of several centuries of dust, dirt, and chemical pollution on the stone that had originally been used to build St. Peter's early in the 17th century.

        The renovation process involved a careful inch-by-inch inspection of the blackened stone, the use of gentle chemicals, washing with jets of compressed water, and the "artificial whitening" of the stone through the use of a new chemical treatment.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

September 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 185


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