Practicing a dying art, a Catholic stone-carver is adding two great women of the 20th century to the carvings that adorn the National Cathedral in Washington.
From the Religion News Service:
Using a motorized hammer and chiseling tools that date back centuries, stone carver Sean Callahan is patiently working on a new bust of the civil rights heroine.
“I have to be aware of the significance of it,” he said. “It puts pressure on me to get it right. I have to pay respect to her in that sense.”
Across the Human Rights “porch” in the cathedral’s narthex, Parks will soon be joined by another famous woman, Mother Teresa.
Callahan, a 45-year-old Catholic, was not alive when Parks made history by staying seated on a segregated bus and helping spark the civil rights movement; but he remembers hearing about the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun when he was growing up.
Starting with Parks, Callahan is using a pointing machine, whose brass arms adjust as he measures a plaster model that acts as an exact guide for the carving, which is chiseled from a block of stone in the narthex.“It’s kind of like a three-dimensional connecting the dots,” said the carver, dressed in jeans and a Washington Nationals baseball cap for the sometimes dusty work…
…Callahan, who worked as an apprentice under stone carvers at the cathedral in the 1980s, has done restoration work on the White House exterior and gargoyles in private gardens. He was rehired by the cathedral six years ago.
As he stands amid temporary scaffolding, a carving of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt peeks over his shoulder.
Others already enshrined in the “human rights” portal include slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero and Bishop John Walker, the first black Episcopal bishop of Washington.
“The people selected to appear in the iconography of the Human Rights Porch were chosen because of their extraordinary actions and contributions to the cause of human rights, social justice and the welfare of their fellow human beings,” said the Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of the cathedral.
You can see some pictures of Callahan at work at the National Cathedral website.