Through the years, when traveling to Jerusalem, besides visiting the office and programs of CNEWA-PMP, Msgr. Stern has called on Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, even civil authorities, in the city. As he repeated the visits, apprehensions dissipated, motives grew clearer and mutual trust developed. Monsignor contacted the custodians of the Holy Sepulchre through the Jerusalem office, whose director at the time, Brother Donald Mansir, F.S.C., had also established close relationships.
The custodians were informed of the Dotys interest in restoring the dome. CNEWA-PMP offered its full though quiet support, promising technical and professional assistance if such a proposal were accepted.
Conversations with individual custodians led to the creation of parameters by which the artist, Mr. Ara Normart, was guided.
A flurry of faxes and courier mail, wrote Brother Donald in these pages, traveled between New York and Fresno, Calif., home of the artist, as thoughts on design, which had to follow the directives established by each custodian, were exchanged.
The final design was presented by Msgr. Stern to the custodians in the patriarchal hall of the Greek Patriarchate on 17 August 1994. This historic day, as Patriarch Diodoros described it, signaled the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the brother custodians.
Work on the dome began immediately. A special platform, utilizing the existing scaffolding, was laid out high above the tomb. To help the dream become a reality, the London firms of Jaques and Muir (architectural) and Campbell Reith Hill (engineering) were secured. After the plans of Campbell Reith Hills representative, Mr. Stuart Goodchild, were approved by the custodians, the plaster was cleaned and lighting placed in the void between the inner and outer domes.
Meanwhile, Mr. Normart supervised the casting of the decorative elements, which were cast from light, reinforced gypsum and fixed to beams imported from Great Britain. These elements were secured to the dome, then gilded with sheets of 23-and-a-half karat gold. The background was painted in a luminous mother-of-pearl. The lantern of the dome was cleaned and the glass replaced with special low transmission, high reflection glass that would keep the harsh sun from damaging the work. The lighting was carefully designed to enhance the dome interior at different times of the day. A complex ventilation system, which will divert the smoke of candles and incense from the decorative elements, was also installed. The project, scheduled for completion before the end of 1996, was completed as planned.
The approved design, which reflects symbolic elements common to the custodial communities, represents the glory of God that enveloped the risen Christ. Twelve streams of gold, representing Gods glory revealed through the church, founded on the 12 Apostles, burst from the brilliant light of the lantern. And from each ray stream three branches of light, an illusion to the Trinity. The mother-of-pearl background, a reminder of the biblical description of the luminous cloud of the Divine Presence, brightens as it ascends, sparkling with gilded stars.
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Tags: Jerusalem Funding Revival/restoration Marie Doty