Monday, December 18, 2006

Winona's Sacred Heart Cathedral, partially remodelled, again in use for Christmas.

Wearing his purple Advent vestments, Bishop Bernard Harrington stood next to a bronze basin of Holy water in the back of his church Sunday. Water burbled from the font, through a trough of Winona stone into a pool below. At 10:30 a.m., as the choir sang “O Come Divine Messiah,” Harrington proceeded down a ramp from what was, for 54 years, the altar, past the baptismal pool, and took his seat in the blonde wood chair — cathedra in Latin — from which the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart takes its name.

From that seat, now permanently fixed in the church, Harrington will preside over the 116 parishes in 20 counties across the state that make up the Diocese of Winona.Above him, sunlight illuminated the reds and blues of the “Christ the King” window in a balcony still raw from the removal of the organ. Behind a temporary altar, where the tabernacle will soon be installed, light filtered through the windows of what were the cathedral’s front doors on Main Street, soon to be covered with a stone wall. Although construction is not quite done, the diocese and its Cathedral parish celebrated the end of a $2.8 million renovation, which turned the 1952 building around, moving the altar to the west end and the entrance to the east, making room for a second phase of construction set to begin. That $2.47 million project will create a new entrance and add an elevator and gathering space on what is now the parking lot and was 150 years ago the site of Winona’s first Catholic church, St. Thomas the Apostle.

The great Cathedrals of Medieval Europe took decades — even centuries — to build, Harrington told several hundred parishioners gathered for the first Mass in the sanctuary since construction began in January. A translucent plastic wand sprouted from behind his left ear and held a tiny microphone that transmitted Harrington’s words to a new sound system that parishioners agreed made it much easier to hear.“It’s not finished, but nevertheless allowing us to gather as a community,” Harrington said. “Each week, you will come and look to see what has changed.” [...Snip] Winona Daily News

Speaking of sound systems, residents of the Twin Cities who tend to avoid the St Paul Cathedral because of its atrocious accoustics might want to get in line to come back this Christmas. A new, high-tech sound system was installed last Winter and the echoing and reverberations pretty much have been eliminated with this new (expensive) and architecturally invisible system.

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