Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New 30 Foot Tall High Altar

Completed high Altar
About two years ago, Father Jim Fitzpatrick asked parishioners of St. Bernard Church in Alpena, Michigan if they wanted to have an altar like the one that was removed from the church in the mid-1960s. Within weeks, fundraising made that dream a possibility.  Old photographs were uncovered to discover the grandeur of the previous altar from St. Bernard:
Archive photo of previous high altar
Fr. Fitzpatrick contacted Henninger's in July, 2014 to investigate options.  Used altars from Italy were proposed.  Used altars from Ohio were proposed.  Unfortunately, nothing was close enough to the original altar to be considered.  At that time Henninger's design team began work on drawing a new altar:
Final design
Drawing altar

The design was approved in March, 2015 and work began.

The design was enlarged to the full size of 30 feet tall for Henninger's woodworkers to measure and lay out each section of the altar. Meanwhile, in Italy, statues were being carved for various places in the altar.  A new crucifixion group of St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and the Virgin Mary, plus two Adoring Angels were carved and painted by Demetz Art Studio. 

Work in Progress
Piece by piece, the altar was built in Henninger's warehouse.  The fiberglass Last Supper panel and grapes relief panels were added, along with decorative polystone capitals and onlays.  Columns were turned, Gothic arches were shaped, and tracery panels were assembled.  As people toured Henninger's warehouse, many exclaimed at its height, to which the woodworkers replied, "we still have to go 12 feet higher!"
Work in Progress
When the construction of the altar was complete, the painting began.  The plan was to paint the new high altar to match the old high altar from St. Bernard - in white with gold/bronze trim.

Painting Altar
Delivery and installation of the high altar took place October 29 - November 3.  The church's statues of St. Patrick, St. Bernard, the Crucified Christ, along with the tabernacle were inserted perfectly into the new altar.  Lighting in each niche was added to highlight each statue.

 Installation time lapse video part 1

Installation time lapse video part 2



The dedication Mass to celebrate the installation of the new high altar is 1pm on Sunday, November 8.  In anticipation of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy recently declared by Pope Francis, St. Bernard Church has been named a place of pilgrimage within the Diocese of Gaylord.

1 comment:

  1. My sisters and I all got married at St. Bernard's. We had always loved to look at the old photos of the high altar before it was removed. Thanks for sharing!