Thursday, September 8, 2016



On a recent visit to the Cathedral of the Assumption, I took the opportunity to take a few shots of some of the interior elements that brought back memories. There are little things that have not made the history books that I thought some people might like to know. 

Inside the altar, I placed the old tabernacle box and laid the key on top. Inside it is a collection of photos I took of the workers who actually did the work of restoring the cathedral. There is also a list of signatures of those who attended the last weekday Mass when we closed the Cathedral for renovation. There is a film, a collection of my cathedral homilies and other papers and mementos that people wanted to bring and place in the box.

This statue of Mary was in the Cathedral when it was built. See it in the old post card photo below. It was on the pillar on the right side on the altar on a sconce across from the big crucifix. Before that it was in the old St. Louis Cathedral. It was taken out in the renovation of the 1970s and given to a the Assumption Knights of Columbus Council near General Electric Appliance Park. Someone had painted it crudely in a garish blue. I asked the Council if we could have it back. They graciously agreed. It was restored to it original look.

One day, during the renovation, the phone rang and a lady told me that these two candelabra were in her basement. She told me that a former pastor had given them to her mother because they were in bad condition at the time. She had them electrified and they were coming apart in pieces. She said she wanted $20,000 each for them (no negotiation) and that I had till the following day to decide or they were going to an antique dealer. I immediately wrote her a check from parish funds and bought them back. The electric wires and bulbs were removed and they were restored to being candelabra. They have been in the Cathedral for  many years. See them in the old post card picture below, barely visible under the wall paintings behind the altar. 

I actually designed this pulpit, except for the red granite. In fact, I did the rough designs for the altar, pulpit, baptismal font and Holy Oil case.  After firing three national church designers, I submitted some drawing anonymously that I had an artist to draw up for me. When they were submitted to the committee, no one knew who came up with the ideas until after the committee said, "This is more like what we want!" The architect took my initial drawing and made them work, adding the red granite touch. The parish took up a special collection and donated the pulpit in my honor. The center round parts of the legs are from an old holy water font. (I kept the original drawings until a couple of years ago. I now regret not keeping them for the museum. I forget the name of the artist who took my rough sketches and drew them up for me.)

My original design of using the old baptismal font and have it overflow into a hexagon shape pool surrounded by parts of the old altar rail were taken and improved by the architect. He went with the use of red granite and having the water actually overflow between the red granite pool and marble communion rail and return in circulation. I had suggested using the gray marble of the pillars on the old font on the new font, altar and pulpit. I now think the red granite was a much better idea. 

It was my idea to save the brass top to the old baptismal font and use it as the top of a case for the Holy Oils.

The painting on the ceiling just above the big window was uncovered. Part of Mary's abdomen was missing as well as one of the angels on the bottom left holding up Mary's robes. The restoration company's artist filled in Mary's abdomen, but I gave him a photo of Ms. Christy Brown (she did more than anyone else to make sure the cathedral was renovated)  and asked him to paint her face on the missing angel which he did.

It was my idea, as well, to use the spire of the old high altar for the tabernacle. The two angels, on each side, were restored by my family in honor of my parents. "Jim" stands on the left and "Ethel" stands on the right.

Look at the walk-in pulpit on the the right on this old post card. Now look at the canopy over the pulpit. Now look at the white cross at the very top. Now look at the cross below.

That is the same cross. The white cross was all I could find of the old pulpit that had been removed many, many years ago -  probably when microphones came in to use. To preserve it, I had the old white paint removed and had Spalding Cabinet Shop in Calvary, Kentucky, put it on a new walnut pole so that we could use it as a processional cross. (That Spalding family is related to Bishop Martin John Spalding who preached from that old pulpit for all the years he was Bishop of Louisville. Bishop Spalding was born in Calvary, Kentucky, where I was pastor before coming to Louisville to be pastor of the Cathedral.) The processional cross is now displayed in the Undercroft of the Cathedral.

Cathedral of the Assumption as it is today.
I still look at it with deep amazement and great pride.
I pray for all those wonderful people who made it possible. 

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