May 24th, 2008 07:46 EST
Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church here will unveil what is believed to be the world`s largest monstrance at 6 p.m. eastern time Saturday, May 31. A monstrance is container that displays a consecrated Host (which Catholics believe is the body of Christ under the appearance of bread) for veneration. The monstrance will serve as focal point of the new Sanctuary of The DivineMercy, to be built on the grounds of this inner city parish.
The gilded receptacle has taken sculptor Stefan Niedorezo two years to carve from linden wood using Renaissance methods. The iconic monstrance is nine feet tall and weighs 700 pounds. Malgorzata Sawczuk applied the gilding and serves as project conservator.
The monstrance depicts the Blessed Mother as the link between the old and new covenants. She stands over the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred container that held the stone tablets inscribed with the 10 Commandments. Mary is "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars," as depicted in the Book of Revelation (Rev 11:19 and 12:1-2).
The unveiling takes place on the feast of the Visitation, where Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and found the supposedly barren woman pregnant with a son who would become John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus (Lk 1:39-57). The public is invited to the ceremony, which will be televised live on EWTN, the worldwide Catholic television network; Catholic TV; and the Latin American TV station El Sembrador. Relevant Radio will provide U.S. coverage. Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago.
The vision for the sanctuary and monstrance began nine years ago when St. Stanislaus Kostka pastor Fr. Anthony Bus, CR, heard a call from Mary asking that he build the sanctuary. He wrote a book about his experience titled A Mother`s Plea: Lifting the Veil in Sanctuary (Marian Press). The book, originally published in 2005, has been a popular title in Catholic book circles partly because of its apocalyptic theme. It has been updated this year with information on the painstaking effort to build the sanctuary.
Donations and proceeds from Fr. Bus`s book financed sculpting the monstrance.
Following the unveiling, planners will begin raising funds to build the sanctuary. Estimated cost is between $15 million and $20 million.