Restoring the Facade of St. Peter's Basilica
Beginning in 1984, the Order collaborated with Reverend Fabrica di San Pietro (R.F.S.P.) on the complete restoration of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, a task that was much needed because of the deteriorated condition of this centuries old massive edifice. Over a period of 20 months, the entire structure was cleaned; travertine blocks and plugs were inserted wherever the original stone was beyond repair. The 13 statues at the summit of the Basilica were repaired and strengthened; and the two massive mosaic clocks at either extremity of the facade were completely redone, as were the five iron gates at ground level.
In gratitude to the Order for this tremendous undertaking and accomplishment, our Holy Father Pope John Paul II presented to the Knights the actual cross which was held since the Basilica's construction in the arms of the statue of Jesus the Savior at the pinnacle of the facade. This cross now hangs on the third floor of the Supreme Council office building along with drawings and pictures showing the facade restoration itself. His Excellency Archbishop Lino Zanini, with whom we collaborated on all of these efforts, indicated that the Holy Father himself deemed it suitable that this cross be entrusted to the care of the Knights of Columbus because of our solicitude for St. Peter's, the structure recognized throughout the world as best symbolizing our Catholic faith.
In 1986 the decision was made to repair and restore the two gigantic statues of Sts. Peter and Paul which stand on either side of the facade in St. Peter's Square. This work was successfully completed and the Order decided to complete our collaboration in the facade restoration by agreeing to underwrite the repair of two ancient rooms located in the facade. The first of these two rooms was used by the architects during the facade's construction; the second was used by the craftsmen who fashioned many of the frames which decorate the art masterpieces of the Vatican. One of these stanze, as they are called, will be used as a study for the architects; the second as a general archive for the drawings of St. Peter's and the facade. They also will house a library of every technical or historical-artistic acknowledgment of the Basilica published in various languages throughout the centuries. This restoration is dedicated to the memory of Count Enrico Galeazzi, who at his death in 1986 was Architect of the Apostolic Palace, Regular Architect of the Reverend Fabrica and our Order's representative in Rome for some 65 years. A suitable plaque is mounted in one of the rooms attesting to this dedication.
So that future generations will know what has been accomplished in our day, this text has been engraved into a marble plaque affixed to the back of the clock on the southeast section of the facade:
Pope John Paul II, wishing to honor the prince of the apostles, restored to its former glory the facade of the patriarchal Vatican Basilica through the munificent generosity of the Order of the Knights of Columbus A.D. 1986, Archbishop Lino Zanini, delegate of the R.F.S.P.
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