NY Times columnist Michael Luongo has written an article which will appear in this Sunday’s Times. It tells the story of why Mother Cabrini — her statue atop one of dozens of saint spires on the Duomo — was picked for special restoration efforts this year.
For Milan’s Duomo, beauty has its price. The city’s massive Gothic cathedral on which construction began in 1386, is undergoing a restoration, and the marble that provides its celebrated luster is a particular challenge.
Monsignor Gianantonio Borgonovo, president of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, the organization that has been responsible for the cathedral’s construction and maintenance since 1387, said: “Restoration is the main work for the Fabbrica, because this marble from Candoglia is not hard. In 50 years, in maximum one century, you have to change all the stones.”
The marble, which is quarried in Candoglia, near Lake Maggiore, about 65 miles northwest of Milan, “is not so strong as Carrara marble,” which is more commonly used in Italy, he said.
Milan’s Duomo is among the world’s largest churches and took nearly five centuries to complete. It will receive renewed attention throughout Milano Expo which began last week and will run through October 31.
A statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, which adorns one of the cathedral’s 135 spires, is also about to undergo restoration. Mother Cabrini was born in Lombardy, the province of which Milan in the capital. She lived and worked in New York beginning in 1889, Pope Leo XIII to help the Italian immigrants. She died in 1917 in Chicago, and in 1946 became the first American citizen to be canonized.
The restoration of Mother Cabrini’s statue is the centrepiece of a crowdfunding campaign by the International Patrons of Duomo di Milano, a United States charity created in 2014 that works with the Fabbrica to raise funds for maintenance of the cathedral. Called the Save the Saint, the campaign was launched in conjunction with ForItaly.org, which works to preserve Italian cultural heritage. The group met its $150,000 target for the Cabrini spire and has a fund-raising goal of $1 million.
Alessandra Pellegrini, chief development officer for the Patrons, said 23 percent of Duomo visitors are from the United States, which is why the Italian-born American saint was chosen for the campaign. She added that by visiting the cathedral, “Americans can understand how deep and rich is the culture and history around Milano.
To raise awareness of the restoration, the statue of St. Lucia and gargoyles from one of the Duomo’s spires are displayed in the Eataly food complex in New York City. Dino Borri, an Eataly partner, said the company donated $100,000 to the Patrons for the Duomo project.
To read Michael Luongo’s article in its entirety: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/08/travel/anticipating-a-crowd-milans-cathedral-undergoes-a-restoration.html?_r=0