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St. Joseph Altar Restoration Completed

“I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to this glorious saint [St. Joseph], for I have great experience of the blessings that he can obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to him and render him particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for he gives very real help to souls who commend themselves to him.” St. Theresa of Avila.

Updated February 1, 2022

Małgorzata Sawczuk and Tomasz Słaboński of Art Objects Conservation very pleased with their work after 9 months of restoration and reconstruction on St Joseph's altar.

The Altar will be blessed, February 2nd after Candlemas Mass and the parish intentions will be placed in the Altar.

Photo at Right: Polish translation- "Saint Joseph, Patron of the Church pray for us!"

Updated December 21, 2021

The year of St. Joseph is coming to a close, and we are completing the next phase of the restoration. Many months of cleaning, reconstructing, and gilding all the mounted elements of the altar included the decorative squares, capitals, bases, and columns.

All dismountable ornaments—including beautifully crafted floral decorations, crosses, pinnacles, and other symbols—were disassembled and transported to the studio at the beginning of the restoration. Some of them will be back up before Christmas.

Dozens of carved wooden ornaments that have been destroyed by time and by failed restoration attempts were carefully assessed. Our inspection revealed that most of the damage was typical and very similar to the problems we encountered on the main altar.

However, we were surprised by the number of missing plant decorations and by the fact that many of them were replaced with badly reconstructed fragments in plaster that crumbled in our hands. We removed all such plaster fragments and replaced them with properly sculpted elements—all while keeping the original style of these wonderful floral compositions created by a talented craftsman more than 100 years ago.

The pictures showcase the results of the final gilding, and the short video depicts our process of burnishing and polishing the new gold leaves applied to a carefully prepared surface.

One of the methods we used is the traditional water gilding technique, which allows us to burnish the gold using special tools giving it a brilliant, reflective shine. We first apply layers of gesso and clay bole, which is prepared to be very smooth and firm. Then, we carefully apply each gold leaf onto the ornaments using animal hide glue. Once dry, the burnished effect is achieved with the use of an agate stone tool which compresses the gold and clay bole.

The gold leaves used can differ in color and shade depending on their karat value. Lower karat values, such as 12K, 16K, or 18K means the gold is alloyed with other metals like silver or copper to achieve lighter colors. High karats have higher gold contents, which makes the surfaces more enduring because gold is more durable.

We proudly used 24K gold leaves on the St. Joseph altar to ensure that the surface will survive in beautiful condition for decades to come. 24K gold is made of 100 percent gold and is resistant to corrosion. The gilded surface is protected with a thin layer of shellac, or specially-formulated synthetic resins. A clear de-waxed shellac (a natural resin mixed with ethyl alcohol) coating is the perfect top coat after the gold leaf has been applied. Its color and transparency go together very well with gold leaf which highlights the beauty and ethereal aesthetic of this material, and of St. Joseph himself.


Updated September 18, 2021

Thank you to all who have made the restoration of our St Joseph Altar possible.

Here are a few examples of the ornaments and surfaces covered with several layers of red and yellow clay. The clay will soon be sanded/polished to obtain a perfectly smooth surface before gilding. This process of applying the clay in multiple layers is time-consuming and requires precision and patience. The better the clay is applied, the better the final effect will be after gilding. The red and yellow clay give different visual effects of the gilding.


Updated August 6, 2021

Thank you to all you have made the restoration of our St Joseph Altar.

We hope you've had a chance to see all of the improvements. Here is the main image of St Joseph through various stages of restoration.

Here is the painting of the angel above the altar. Notice the right side after restoration.

The angel holds a banner announcing St. Joseph Patron of the Church, Pray for Us!

In this year of St. Joseph, may this restoration work be our Amen!


Updated June 19, 2021

We are pleased to announce this Father's Day weekend, that through the generosity of over 500 people that we have reached our fundraising goal of $248,000 for the restoration of St. Joseph's Altar!

You can still submit your prayer intentions and offerings. Additional funds collected will go towards any overages on this project or towards the future restoration of Our Lady's altar. All prayer intentions will be placed in the restored St. Joseph's altar for years to come.

Margaret Sawczuk hard at work

This past week, Father Joshua met with Margaret Sawczuk, the Lead Restoration Artist to check in on the progress and learn more about the restoration process.


Updated June 5, 2021

The restoration of St. Joseph's altar is underway. All 90 gilded ornaments have been removed along with hundreds of rusty nails. Work is being done to fill in gaps and repair the structural integrity of the altar.

We kicked the work off with a High Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, on May 1st. Though the work has begun, we are still in need of funds.

Donate here

As we celebrate the Year of St. Joseph, we are restoring St. Joseph’s altar as an offering and a prayer for the Church. Seeking the intercession of this mighty Saint, we wish to repair and regild, in 24k gold leaf, this altar to match our magnificently restored High Altar.

Help Us Honor St. Joseph

We are inviting friends of St. Joseph to make an offering and a prayer intention to St. Joseph. All prayer intentions will be placed in the restored altar when it is completed.

The St. Joseph Altar is in dire need of repair and restoration. The altar’s stability is compromised by deep vertical cracks including cracks in the altar’s base. Much of the carved wood-and-gilded ornamentation is either discolored, damaged, or missing and the entire surface of the altar needs to be cleaned.

The St. Joseph Altar is used not only as an altar for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but it also supports an elaborate and heavy Christmas Creche, the Holy Thursday repository, the Good Friday tomb, and the Resurrection tableau throughout Eastertide. The extraordinary use, in addition to the normal depredations of time and circumstance, have contributed to the altar’s need for repair and restoration.