Renovated, NY Cathedral Ready for Pope Francis

Pope Francis is headed to 5th Avenue in Manhattan.  There, across from Rockefeller Center and New York City’s famous shopping district, stands St. Patrick’s Cathedral – the largest Neo-Gothic style Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States — where the pontiff will hold an evening prayer, shortly after arriving on September 24.For visitors – 5 million annually – the cathedral remains one of New York City’s top tourist destinations.  It was completed in 1879, after 21 years of construction, standing 100 meters above the street, seating 2,400 people and featuring more than 2,800 stained glass panels.

Tourists from near and far marvel at its intricacies and magnitude.

“For the Catholic Church, it’s one of the most precious churches in the United States of America,” said William Eggels, a tourist from the Netherlands.

View of altar at St. Patrick's cathedral in New York city, Sept. 19, 2015. (Photo: S. Lemaire / VOA)

View of altar at St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York city, Sept. 19, 2015. (Photo: S. Lemaire / VOA)

Another first-time visitor from New York, Angela Paul, called the cathedral «soothing and magical.»  She said the cathedral’s central location adds to the effect.

“There’s so much going on outside, but it’s just so, so, so quiet inside and so breathtaking, that you forget really where you are.  And then you come outside, and it’s like, ‘Whoa, I’m in New York!,’” said Paul.

$175 million makeover

The campaign communication director at St. Patrick’s, Kate Monaghan, says that after many months of detailed security and logistical planning, the church is ready to receive Pope Francis.

“You go through every step the pope will take, from when he gets out of the Popemobile and steps out onto 5th Avenue, walks up the stairs.  Every, you know, spot that he walks through, we know exactly,” explained Monaghan.

 

Priest greets parishioners in front of St. Patrick's cathedral in Manhattan, New York, Sept. 19, 2015. (Photo: S. Lemaire / VOA)

Priest greets parishioners in front of St. Patrick’s cathedral in Manhattan, New York, Sept. 19, 2015. (Photo: S. Lemaire / VOA)

The pope’s visit follows a three-year makeover of the cathedral, estimated at $175 million.  Monaghan says the scaffolding that remains for now will be removed in time.

Pope Francis will be the fourth Catholic leader to visit, making St. Patrick’s the most visited cathedral by a pope outside of Italy.

 

 

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