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When Liturgical Designer Rolf Rohn and Kathy Maglicco of Rohn and Associates Design, Inc. was enlisted in the restoration of St. Louise de Marillac Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the goal was to emphasize its new open floor plan and provide a space that is both welcoming and harmonious. Designed to receive those who seek the presence of God, the church sits on a sunny knoll above a pastoral field. St. Louise embraces a motley group of organic forms, spaces, and reflections of historic church architecture. The rugged fieldstone used on the interior and exterior reflect earliest church traditions while exposed steel columns, girders and trusses modernize it with a local and uniquely Pittsburgh feel. Its once dark interior is now filled with beams of light that dance around an airy space that is now bright, warm and inviting.
Rolf and Kathy custom designed the liturgical furniture and materials, appointments and finishes while working closely with Reverend Michael Caridi, his team and architect Lou Astorino to ensure that they convey the sacred space’s integrity, hospitable nature and spiritual uplift, all in the service of the community’s worship of Almighty God. The vision for the liturgical furniture came from an existing Old-World style stone column outside the door to the Sanctuary and all elements were designed to be in harmony with the rest of the space while still emphasizing the Altar as the focal point of Christo-centric worship. The original baptismal font was also a source of inspiration with its intricate grapevine pattern that was repeated on all the new wood furniture and appointments.
The Italian-made bronze patinaed Tabernacle door and bronze-finished oak carved Ambry door, marble Altar and Ambo, Deacon’s chair and subtly adorned red and gold Presider’s Chair are invitations to meditate on the Paschal Mystery with their weighty, earthy materials and design. The baptismal font was also refinished, the stone base done in a bronze tone to compliment the rest of the furnishings and its octagonal lid gilded with 23-karat gold leaf and a complimentary patina. The company also custom designed all-new brushed bronze appointments with grapevine detailing carved in wood to match the new furniture, including a gold leafed Processional Cross that holds a silver crucifix and a similarly designed Altar Cross, Processional Torches, Altar Candles and Sanctuary Lamp.
Artist Renate Rohn painstakingly restored all artwork with peaceful hues and gilded detailing to emphasize not just the beauty of the space, but to convey an overwhelmingly spiritual sense, including the hanging crucifix (with a newly fabricated cross). The back wall of the Sanctuary and its niches, featuring adoring angels, were hand-carved in Italy and hand-painted on-site with accents of 23-karat white gold. The original Mary and St. Joseph statues that stand in the front of the church were repaired and repainted with dulcet tones and gold highlights, and the new patron saint statue in the entry and the original Blessed Mother from the shrine in the rear also received similar attention. The original natural wood Stations of the Cross that encircle the church were redone in soft colors with gold and bronze tones to tie in with the rest of the artwork and to harmonize with the sanctuary décor. They also compliment the newly added hand-carved Holy Spirit relief – finished with 23-karat gold leaf and patinaed – that now hangs in the upper right of the church. All are meant to remind the worshippers of their participation in the heavenly liturgy.
The blessing and dedication of the restoration took place on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7th at 11:00 AM. Bishop Zubik was the celebrant of the Mass.