Students Design Altar Pope Will Use in US

Catholic University Hosts Contest

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Two architecture students at Catholic University designed the altar, ambo and chair Benedict XVI will use to celebrate Mass in the U.S. capitol



John-Paul Mikolajczyk and Ryan Mullen, both candidates in the master's program at Catholic University's School of Architecture and Planning, were the winners of the contest to design the structures to be used at the April 17 Mass at Nationals Park.

The 10-by-4 foot papal altar has a substantial top with a repeating pattern of decorative parabolic arches beneath it and a smaller base.

The front of the pulpit where the Gospel will be read is adorned with images of the Bible and the Holy Trinity. The tall chair back is decorated with Benedict XVI's papal coat of arms.

At Monday's unveiling of the design, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington said that the design is "a tribute to this school of architecture, Catholic University and the quality of students here. […] All those people are going to be looking at this and you'll be able to say, 'He's standing at my altar.'"

Mikolajczyk and Mullen will work with architecture faculty and the Archdiocese of Washington to fine-tune the design and actually construct the altar and the other furnishings.

The designers explained that for inspiration, they spent an afternoon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception studying the altar furnishings.

"We wanted to incorporate elements that would remind us of Christ's active presence and work in the liturgy," said Mikolajczyk.

Students, working individually or in teams of up to four people, prepared their models and drawings over a few days of work between Jan. 18 and Jan. 23. The entries were judged Jan. 24.