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Look! It's a Bird, a Plane, it's...The Cathedral Ceiling!

We're continuing to celebrate 136 years of faithful service to the people of the Diocese of Scranton and beyond by sharing our favorite throwback photos and historical memories. For our final walk down memory lane, we chose a modern photo with a past that dates back to 1934.

Perhaps one of the most striking features of the Cathedral is the fully frescoed ceiling. The ceiling is so visually striking that visitors, parishioners, and friends will very often find themselves looking upward.

The Cathedral has been renovated six times - in 1884, 1921, 1934, 1967, 1991, and 2018. It is without a doubt that the Jubilee renovations of 1934 have left the most visual impact on the interior of the Cathedral. The 1921 renovations were completed primarily by Rambusch Lighting Co., and they continued to lead the project in 1934.

The work of Roman artist Professor Gonippo Raggi has left us with some of the greatest artwork in the diocese. The major contributions of this skilled artist were the elaborate renderings of the seven sacraments on canvases covering the Cathedral's large center ceiling panels and the replacement of the Crucifixion mural behind the altar with a canvas containing a rendering of the famed Raphael two-part painting of the Transfiguration and the "exorcism of a young boy possessed by the devil." The Cathedral copy is twice the size of the original still on display at the Vatican.

The sacramental path to salvation begins with the ceiling panel over the main altar depicting the Sacrament of Baptism in an original painting of Saint Peter baptizing the prisoners in the Mammertime Prison and concludes with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick picturing an elderly man receiving Holy Communion, a reproduction of a seventeenth-century painting, The Last Communion of Saint Jerome by the Italian Baroque artist Domenico Zampieri.

Other notable panels include Confirmation represented by tongues of fire descending upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin, a copy of the painting originally done by the Italian artist Tiziano Vecelli. The Holy Eucharist is portrayed not as is customary with a rendering of the Last Supper but rather with a Scriptural prefiguration of the event by the 17th century Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo featuring the multiplication of loaves and fishes.

The story of salvation history continues on the sloping half ceilings of both sides of the church. Here is told another story through art as we view our companions on the sacramental journey - friends of God. On one side, the Old Testament and on the other the New. Patriarchs, saints, and apostles fare featured from Adam to Noah to the evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

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