St. Stanislaus Bell Tower Domes Completed

As the bright sunrise began to light the eastern horizon in the crisp autumn air, heavy machinery moved into place in front of St. Stanislaus church.  The street was closed to traffic as a huge boom crane rolled into place and anchored to the street.  Flatbed trailers delivered the newly completed domes – clad in sparkling copper, according to the original 1872 design. Abbe George met the assembled workmen as one of them, dressed in neon orange vest over his work cassock and white hard hat.  The air buzzed with excitement.

Each in turn, the cranes gently lifted the domes from the trailers and set them on the street.  Cast iron framework, which had been necessary for safe transport from Canada, was removed and the ornate cap piece and column feet were meticulously assembled.  The craftsmen were very deliberate in their work; this was not just another job!  It was clearly something special to them and their care and pride were evident. 

With the deftness of a surgeon, the crane operator then lifted the domes, one by one, into its permanent place atop the bell tower where workmen awaited them and bolted them in position. Although there had been concern about possible weather difficulties, it was evident that Providence was smiling on the efforts: only light clouds passed by and the wind remained calm as the sun rose higher. 

Canon Jayr appeared in surplice and stole, and the back of a truck opened to reveal the 10-foot high, glittering gold crosses.  With solemnity, workmen and photographers assembled to witness the blessing of these beacons of hope.  Soon, the truck was moved into place. Artisans, carefully covering their hands with white cotton gloves, deftly and very reverently lifted the first cross to the street.  Several yards of foam padding were added and the workmen gently wrapped the hoisting straps around it.  With two workmen high overhead in a boom lift, the crane then lifted each cross to its place.  The evening sun glinted off the copper and gold as they were bolted atop the domes.   

The dome restoration project – which took nearly a year and 30,000 man-hours to complete – was now finished.  A sheaf of documents was tucked inside the cap piece of the south dome as a hundred-year time capsule.  Great joy was expressed by the various workmen, who recognized this as their magnum opus, intended to last long past their lifetimes.  One spoke that “he hoped to meet in heaven the little immigrant Polish lady who prayed for this project” as he expressed his wonder at the accomplishment of a nearly-miraculous endeavor. 


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