The "Universal Call to Holiness" Bas Relief by Rugo Stone

Stonework frequently doesn't get the attention it deserves and yet quality stonework frequently can 'make or break' a church project. In point of fact, when we consider the churches of old, their beautiful marble revetments are frequently points of particular note. 

Rugo Stone specializes in stonework and I came across a project which caught my attention, executed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The work is a bas relief located at the rear of the church, leading toward the narthex, and as such, it might escape your attention. 

The work, which is called the "Universal Call to Holiness"  is described as follows by Rugo Stone:

Opposite the magnificent high altar in the Basilica rests the end wall bas-relief carving known as The Universal Call to Holiness. This large bas-relief measures 53′ long x 15′ high x 1′ thick. The installed relief sets 19′ off the finished floor. The relief has 47 figures carved in Botticino Classico marble, and the assembled relief consists of 16 pieces, the largest measuring 12′ x 10′.

Rugo Stone designed a stainless steel anchorage system to support the weight of the stone, approximately 85,000 lbs. The project included the supply of the carved marble panels and its special transport from Italy. The logistics involved moving these panels from the east entrance through the Narthex and then into the Nave..

The logistics of moving the panels involved the design and erection of a custom overhead gantry crane able to lift 10 ton, our heaviest piece was 12,750 lbs, and we designed and created a special rail and cart to travel the load in the Narthex, rotate the load 45 degrees, and deliver the panels under the crane hook. This was extremely inventive engineering and rigging, performed in expert fashion with no damage to the bas-relief, the building, and there were no lost time accidents to our workforce. Rugo Stone furnished and installed all the book-matched marble wall panels, radial marble soffits, the solid marble cornices, and the associated unit masonry and miscellaneous steel for a complete scope..

Rugo Stone received the Marble Institute of America’s Pinnacle Award for “Special recognition” in the year 2000.

Here are some closer views of this impressive stone relief. 

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