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It was an unusually cold, grey morning when the big crane pulled onto Historic Mitchell Street outside St. Stanislaus. A second smaller truck carrying an inconspicuous plywood crate pulled in alongside. Quickly, workmen opened the crate to reveal the lovely copper dome to crown the saccharine bell.

The saccharine bell – also called the Mass bell – sits atop the roof, over the High Altar, and is traditionally rung at the Elevation of the Blessed Sacrament during Mass in union with the small, hand-held Sanctus bells run by the acolyte. It is considerably smaller than the tower bells – a mere 1,000 pounds, compared to their 5000, 4,000, 2,500, and 2,000-pound weights. The dome is, therefore, proportionally smaller than the tower domes, but has been restored to the same original design, complete with copper plated “shingles” and Doric columns.

Half of the workmen scrambled up the scaffolding to the rooftop, along with the ever-conscientious Abbe George, in preparation for the dome’s ascent. One worker carried with him the gleaming copper platform for the dome. As soon as everyone was in place, the crane operator gently and swiftly hoisted the glittering dome up into the grey sky, curtseying to its cousins on the tower domes, and then over the saccharine bell. As soon as the dome touched into place, the sky suddenly cleared and the bright sun glinted off the shining new copper, like heaven’s smile of approval.

On the ground, the second part of the operation began. The bright gold cross – an identical but smaller copy of the tower crosses – was wrapped and fitted onto the hoist and swung up into the blue sky. Very quickly, it was captured by the workmen overhead and situated atop the new dome. This lovely cross was followed later by the copper columns.

Thus, the exterior work high atop St. Stanislaus nears completion. Soon, all the roofing will be restored and all the scaffolding will be removed, revealing the full glory of the project begun months ago, in time to celebrate Christ’s Incarnation at Christmas.

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