High Altar Restoration Nearing Completion

This photo of our high altar was taken in 1917

This photo was taken right after the scaffolding came down

Over the years, there were many changes to our high altar. The color of the original altar was a dark ebony [black wood], Sts. Peter and Paul had a background of blue. There were some ornamental elements at the very top of the altar which were removed as they became unstable. The large curved arms were removed as they hindered the sacred ceremonies. Finally in order to provide a more fitting throne for Eucharistic adoration, during Benediction and Forty Hours Devotion, the tabernacle house was modified and provides a beautiful Eucharistic Throne.

At this time I extend my thanks to all our parishioners, friends and benefactors who in any way made the altar restoration possible. Donations of “old gold” and cash from individuals as well as the Café San Giovanni donations. A special word of thanks to Keith and Val Alessi for their generous “lead gift” for not only the altar, but the interior restoration of our church which was completed two years ago.

The husband and wife team, Tomasz and Margaret, owners of the Art Objects Inc., have worked on repairing, carving the decorative elements. At the same time the altar was cleaned which gives a fresh look to this century old work of art. The laying of the gold leaf is a long and delicate process. The wood must be prepared with layers of “gesso,” a plaster like substance. Each layer is then sanded to give a smooth surface. I believe up to 8 layers were used on elements of our altar. The surface is then covered with a type of glue known as “size.” At the appropriate time the thin sheets of gold leaf are then applied. When you see the very polished surface, that means that is was burnished. The gold was polished with an agate stone which brings out the high luster. I was told that when the area around St. Anne was being done the artist began to have soreness in his eyes due to the brilliance of the gold. Thanks to this dedicated couple who spent many hours making our high altar as beautiful as the day when our early parishioners first saw the magnificent structure.

It is my hope that I will be able to raise the necessary funds to restore the St. Joseph, Mary Altar and finally the pulpit, thus completing the restoration of our church. As it states in stone on our cornerstone, “This is a terrible and awesome place, this is nothing other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.” And in our triumphal arch, "My House is a House of prayer.”