New statue of St. Paul may be a first for the city
St. Paul is coming to St. Paul this week.
At 8 feet tall and 4,500 pounds, he makes a grand impression, but since he may be a first for his namesake city, he deserves special notice.
A new statue of St. Paul, designed by noted liturgical artist Angelo Gherardi and crafted by third-generation Italian sculptor Franco Dolfi, will arrive next Friday, Aug. 15, at its new home in the courtyard outside The Saint Paul Seminary.
Carved in Italy from quartzite from Ukraine, the statue is thought to be the first exterior sculpture of St. Paul in the city limits. It began a journey by boat to the United States on July 9 and arrived in Chicago Aug. 4. It’s now on its way to Minnesota, where a crane will be ready to hoist it onto a 9-foot pedestal, creating a impressive centerpiece for the courtyard.
Artist Gherardi, 84, was born in Italy and moved to Chicago in 1979. Since 1948 he has designed liturgical settings, mosaic works, stained-glass windows and renovations for more than 300 churches in the United States. Gherardi attended the School of Design in La Spezia and studied art in Florence. After his family left Italy for the United States, he began studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Among the most prominent examples of his work in this country: the restoration of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City, heavily damaged in the 1995 bombing, and sanctuaries for two of Pope John Paul II’s Masses in the United States: 1979 in Chicago and 1999 in St. Louis.
Dolfi’s family has been in the statue-carving business since 1935; Dolfi Statuary and Marble Works, located in Marina di Carrara, is a leading carver of Carrara marble statues and furniture.
The statue project was made possible by longtime seminary benefactors, retired businessman John Michel and his wife, Catherine, Nativity of Our Lord parishioners and residents of St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.
The Michels have supported several liturgical art projects in St. Paul, including the metropolitan cross at The Saint Paul Seminary (1998); several projects at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, including statues of prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel (2006) and monument markers for the church (2002) and the school (2008); and an exterior crucifix for St. John Vianney College Seminary (2005).
Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, rector of The Saint Paul Seminary, said that the timing of the statue’s installation is particularly appropriate. He noted that Pope Benedict XVI dedicated June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, as a special jubilee year to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth, which historians place between 7 and 10 A.D
In his official announcement of the Pauline Year last summer, the Holy Father said the year would be characterized by its “ecumenical dimension” because St. Paul “dedicated to bringing the Good News to all peoples, concerned himself with the unity and harmony of all Christians.”
“Recalling this great apostle, who was such a herald of the Gospels to the then known world, gives encouragement and energy to our men preparing to be priests of the new evangelization in this new millennium,” Callaghan said.