Friday, November 16, 2001

Church reopens on Dec. 8

Baptismal pool, floors refurbished

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — The reopening and rededication of the richly refurbished Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption will take place Dec. 8 — right on schedule.

[photo] Bishop Robert Muench (left) and Father Michael Barth look over the progress on the renovation of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Pieces of the renovation puzzle are arriving daily. Mosaic tiles from Glasgow, Scotland, were uncrated Thursday morning and the replated gold tabernacle is scheduled to be installed today. Pieces of the restored baldacchino, the wood structure behind the altar, should start arriving today from a warehouse five blocks away.

        “When you add them all together, it's like a symphony,” Bishop Robert Muench of the Covington Diocese said. “A building as exquisite as this is going to get you as close to heaven on this earth as you can come.”

        Workers also cleaned all of the interior stained glass and added protective paneling to the exterior. The Frank Duveneck murals were restored and the 14 mosaic Stations of the Cross, with approximately 70,000 tiles in each, were hand-cleaned with cotton swabs and then polished.

        Parishioners will be treated to several new features, such as the re-marbled middle aisle flooring, the mosaic-inlaid baptismal pool, which replaced the old baptismal font, and a new bronze statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, created by San Luis, Colo., artist Huberto Maestas.

        The altar has been moved toward the pews by 25 feet. Architectural consultant Bill Brown of Colorado Springs, Colo., said that $700,000 more than the original $4.5 million budget was spent on the restoration.

        Mr. Brown said that the extra money wasn't for items over budget, but that the church decided to make additional improvements for things that would have been problems later, such as the Basilica's old steam heating system, replaced by a new hot water system, and the crumbling gargoyles atop the Basilica's exterior.

        Construction has gone smoothly, according to project superintendent Jim Hanks. For three months nearly 65-70 people have worked daily on the interior and exterior restoration of the Basilica. The project began in April.

        The Dec. 8 opening Mass and rededication is by invitation only.

        The church will open to the general public at 10 a.m. the following day.


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