DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     September 2, 1999     vol. 10, no. 166

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Restoration Reveals Original Paint Used by Maderno

        VATICAN CITY, AUG 31, 1999 (ZENIT).- Like wrapping paper from an important gift that is opened little by little to reveal its contents, the majestic baroque façade of St. Peter's Basilica is beginning to free itself of the scaffolding which has hidden it from pilgrims for over a year. In the next few weeks, the complete restoration will reach its culmination and the most famous holy building of Christianity will once again reveal all its splendor to the world, just in time for the Jubilee.

        According to professor Sandro Benedetti, chief architect of the "Fabbrica di San Pietro" (St. Peter's Workshop), the Vatican department in charge of the upkeep of the Basilica, "the restoration of St. Peter's was anything but simple compared to other buildings made of 'travertino.' Even though St. Peter's façade is also made of the typical Roman stone employed in numerous churches in the city, Carlo Maderno -- who designed and built the structure in 1612 -- finished off the façade with a unique coat of color. The difficulty of the restoration process was trying to clean the surface without removing the original paint, which itself is an integral part of the façade."

        Mainly because of this factor, the work of restoration was not entrusted to the normal companies who specialize in this field. "It was done first-hand by the personnel of St. Peter's Workshop who carried out the long and laborious work, dedicating as much time as necessary," Benedetti explained.

        If all goes according to schedule, the scaffolding should be completely removed from the façade by the end of September.

        Contrary to what has appeared recently in the Italian press, Michelangelo had nothing to do with the design and construction of the majestic façade, in fact, he never would have allowed it since it would have hidden his greatest masterpiece, the "cupula" or dome of St. Peter's. The Italian artist died in 1564, three decades before work on the façade even began. ZE99083104

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 2, 1999       volume 10, no. 166


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