Skip to comments.Elite Vatican Squad Scales High Spots to Keep Basilica Spic and Span
Posted on 12/21/2012 7:15:52 AM PST by marshmallow
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sounds of a woman chanting in a side chapel blended with the less traditional hum of a hydraulic lift one recent morning in St. Peter's Basilica.
Pilgrims were pressed against a barricade pointing cameras at workmen strapped in climbing harnesses, teetering atop the baldacchino, the massive bronze canopy over the main altar.
Twice a year, typically before Christmas and Easter, a select team of Vatican workers breaks out its polyester dusters, vacuum cleaner and bronze polishing fluid to clean Gian Lorenzo Bernini's 100-foot-high, 63-ton masterpiece.
Until recently, they had to climb up the twisting columns, hoisting themselves with wooden pegs and ropes, using the decorative bronze leaves and branches wrapped around the columns as toe perches and handholds.
But recently they started borrowing an electric "spider lift" from the office governing Vatican City State, said Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, chief of staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the Vatican office in charge of the basilica.
Now workers ride the boom lift to the top of the canopy, where they don white hard hats, snap on rubber gloves and pull down dust masks before they knot their safety lines around the neck of a 13-foot angel or the chubby legs of the 8-foot-tall "putti" that adorn the top of the canopy.
Tradition isn't completely dead, though. During the latest cleaning Dec. 18, Emanuele Roncaccia pulled out a thick length of rope from which dangled a short narrow plank worn smooth from decades of use.
It turns out the bucket lift can't reach all the dusty niches and nooks under the baldacchino, and the centuries-old method of rappelling and circling round the capitals and columns with a duster in hand works better than the more cumbersome lift.
With a safety line clipped to Roncaccia's back, workers helped.....
(Excerpt) Read more at catholicnews.com ...
for a moment I thought it would be priests in cassocks doing it :)
A Vatican worker, known as a "sanpietrino," dusts a column of the baldacchino over the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Yet I read elsewhere this mmorning that Hillary Clinton placed the star on top of the national Christmas tree only once in 8 years because she was afraid. (Barbara Bush did the honor 12 times -- loved going up in the bucket.)
It had nothing to do with fear of heights. It had to do with the fact that she objected to the star ornament. It was not red and did not have a hammer and sickle on it.
Not her favorite activity: Hillary Clinton said that she did not enjoy putting the star at the top of the National Christmas tree so she only did that one time
Risktaker: Alternatively, former first lady Barbara Bush (seen here with her granddaughters- and George W. Bush's daughters- Jenna and Barbara Bush) put the star up 'twelve times'
Yet I read elsewhere this morning....
I saw the video and interview last night on NBC, Christmas at the White House. Hillary said that once was enough, she did like the view while up there.