Cardinal Wuerl offered prayers and gave blessing at a special ceremony ahead of new mosaic's installation
A Washington cardinal gave a blessing from scaffolding 159 feet above the ground in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Friday.
In front of an audience of builders, Church leaders, choir members and journalists, Cardinal Donald W Wuerl blessed the shrine’s Trinity Dome ahead of plans to install a new 24-ton mosaic composed of more than 14 million pieces of glass.
The mosaic, currently being built Travisanutto Giovanni in Spilimbergo, Italy, will be shipped to the shrine in 30,000 sections. It will depict the Trinity, Mary, 13 saints, the four evangelists and words from the Nicene Creed.
Cardinal Wueri said the mosaic, due to be completed by the end of next year, “will be a wonder to behold.”
The finished dome also will mark the completion of the national shrine, according to the original architectural plans for the church set to mark its centennial in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the placement of its foundational stone.
During the blessing, Cardin Wuerl offered prayers for the success of the project and the safety of the workers involved. He said the shrine puts into “image form” the message of the Gospel and does so “in a way that everyone can bask in its beauty”.
In introductory remarks, Mgr Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine, stressed the parallels between the mosaic design on the dome and the very character of the shrine itself, representing a mosaic of Catholic parishioners from every corner of the globe.
A special one-time collection for the dome work will take place on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017. The last time a national collection was done for the shrine was in 1953 when it was being built.
Cardinal Wuerl urged those present to be sure they touched the wall of the dome before they left “because you’ll never have a chance to do it again.”
“Remember today for a number of reasons,” Cardinal Wuerl added. “First of all you were here. You were here at a moment in history.”