Editor's note: Joe Becker continues his report on the natural-stone segment of the St. Joseph Cathedral restoration in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Our trip to Italy on June 20-24 was another step in the long process of completing the project. We made a location visit last year to view materials the first time, so this trip was to check on fabrication and to view the progress of Cathedral-commissioned artist Cody Swanson.

A project of this size usually requires an artist to be commissioned and to create images having the personal touch of the current clergyman –in this case, Bishop Paul Swain. What Mr. Swanson creates will be viewed, critiqued, altered,and eventually accepted by Bishop Swain and architect Duncan Stroik.

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When the images are finalized, Mr. Swanson will make plaster models and send them to the fabricators. My only involvement is making sure the images t to be carved into stone make it to the fabricator with enough time to get the work done.

Besides viewing the artist’s work, we looked at fabricated Fior de Pesco wainscot, as well as an inspection of blocks for the column bases, and the large cubic items in Phase II of the project. The bad news is that the block for the Rosso Barocco columns ended up with a crack and couldn’t be used. This remains a critical item for the contractor, since therea are many weeks of work coming after the installation of the columns.  

Back at home in South Dakota container #2 arrived from Italy, and the guys went to work. This shipment contained the remainder of the steps and the paving for the transepts.
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Let me take a minute or two to offer a brief glossary of terminology used for areas in a church. (To help illustrate this, refer to this drawing of church consruction -- Editor.)

The St. Joseph Cathedral is a cruciform-shaped church, meaning that it’s in shape of a cross. At the top of the shape is the sanctuary; that’s where we started with container Number One.

The transverse area forming the arms of the cross is the transept. It‘s still highly visible, like the sanctuary, but often holds pews. We are currently installing the materials from container #2 in this area.

The body of the cross – the area below the transept – is the nave, and that’s where the majority of a church’s pews are located. This area will feature the materials coming in containers #3, #4 and part of #5.