I recently saw a photo in New Orleans' "other" newspaper of a new cross atop St. Stephen's Church on Napoleon Avenue. There was no story with the photo and only minimal information about the new cross. Can you give me more info? I have an old family connection to that church, so I like to keep up.
Curious in Carrollton
After a year of hard work, the parishioners of Good Shepherd Parish have a beautiful new cross on St. Stephen's Church, a 12-foot-high bronze cross gilded in 23-karat gold leaf. The design of the cross is of Irish or Celtic origin.
The old cross was a victim of Hurricane Gustav, which caused it to lose an arm. The cross was discovered to be copper flashing over steel piping and cypress wood — nothing especially valuable or beautiful. An insurance estimate revealed that the cross could be repaired or replaced for $30,000 — $500 for the cross itself and the rest for labor and the crane.
The new pastor, Monsignor Christopher Nalty, appointed on Nov. 1, 2008, made a decision after asking himself, "Why would we spend $30,000 to replace a simple $500 cross? Can't we put something more beautiful on top of our church?"
Monsignor Nalty contacted local artist Thomas Bruno. Bruno was given the original drawings by architects Favrot & Livaudais, and he offered the parish a proposal.
Announcements went out about the new project. Parishioners were promised that their names would be engraved on the new cross for a donation of $1,000. The "Spirit Givers," as they were called, were more than generous. As a result, it was decided to have the cross completely covered with gold leaf.
Thomas Bruno cast the entire cross of bronze, which will last a very long time, and the names of all the "Spirit Givers" were hand-engraved into the upright beam. After a primer was applied, gold "sizing" came next. Then followed 4-inch-square sheets of 23-karat gold leaf applied by hand.
Finally, the cross was inscribed in Latin. The English translation is this: "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." (John 3:14-15). Another inscription, also in Latin, indicates that the cross was originally blessed on the Solemnity of Christ the King: In sollemnitate D.N.I. C. Universorum Regis A.D. MMIX. The last inscription is the names of Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Monsignor Nalty, since they were the bishop and parish priest at the time of the blessing. And because the church is in New Orleans, a fleur de lis also is engraved on the cross.