Skip to comments.Basilica restoration sheds light on original vision
Posted on 11/03/2006 8:00:42 AM PST by NYer
Even a brilliant autumn day can't compete with the glorious natural light that illuminates the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary just days before its rededication.
After a two-year, $32 million restoration, the light again flows through the basilica's skylights and sparkling, translucent window panes. The interior space is a soaring masterpiece of pendentives, domes and barrel vaults, but the light -- pure and elemental -- calls to mind the simplicity of a country church or Quaker meetinghouse.
It is consummately American light, the kind rarely, if ever, found in Europe's famed cathedrals, where stained-glass windows and richly ornamented interiors tend to create a mysterious aura of darkness.
Two hundred years after the cornerstone for the cathedral was laid, the light that has been liberated from layers of paint and stained glass again animates the vision shared by John Carroll, the country's first bishop, and Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the architect of the cathedral.
Throughout the space, neoclassical grandeur blends with American pragmatism. Latrobe designed the neat grids of plaster rosettes that decorate the ceiling to absorb sound in the cavernous cathedral. Against the basilica's breathtaking domed ceiling, they call to mind the ornamental, yet orderly sensibility of an American quilt. With their pronounced stigmas and sunbeamlike petals, the rosettes, despite their pastel hues, may also remind Marylanders of black-eyed Susans.
The depiction of an integrated heaven with black and white angels in new paintings of the Assumption of Mary and the Ascension of Jesus adorning two saucer domes show that over the centuries, cathedrals may be continuous works in progress that reflect social advancement within the church.
(Excerpt) Read more at baltimoresun.com ...
The basilica's interior is filled with skylights, pendentives, domes and barrel vaults.
Architect John G. Waite takes pictures from the back balcony of the 200-year-old basilica during a media event held before the reopening of the cathedral Saturday after two years of renovations.
Woodworker James Adajian (background) is using traditional tools to return sculpted angels to their former glory.
It is beautiful, isn't it?
I visited this Basilica in Baltimore once years ago when I was a kid. I thought it was very impressive at the time. I'm not sure what these restorations did to the feeling of the building though.
The fact that the article said that the Basilica now "calls to mind the simplicity of a country church or Quaker meetinghouse," makes me kind of nervous. I like lots of natural light and all...but still.
They really did a good job on it--looks really nice...
I just wish this same care could have taken place in Milwaukee...8^)
Have they painted over those hideous, conceited paintings of Rembert Weakling yet?
IOW, I approve.
You owe me a keyboard. LOLOLOL!
I saw it last year. It is not as bad as I feared, but it is still UGLY!
I don't know. I hope so...