Altarpiece after restoration
As little Italy adds condos and shops, its centerpiece, Our Lady of the Rosary Church, has undergone a restoration.
On the corner of State and Date streets, the church is noted as a place guaranteed to make a first-time visitor’s jaw drop when he sees wall-to-wall renderings of the 12 Apostles, the Crucifixion, Rosary Mysteries, and Last Judgment, by artist Fausto Tasca, After a year of restoration, the color and intensity of those paintings are brighter.
“It’s like the shadow has been removed and it’s come alive!” says Patricia Kaszas, restoration project liason.
The most noticeable change in the church’s interior is the marble floor, replacing the original wood floor, carpeted since the 1970s. Father Joe Tabigue, the church’s pastor, claims it was his idea, but Kaszas adds that it was her suggestion. “He liked the idea. We found a red marble stone called ‘Rojo Alicante’ and Father said ‘It reminds me of the Blood of Christ!’ For the altar area, we picked a white marble and Father said, ‘This looks like Heaven.’”
Father Tabigue says that it was his idea to restore the church for its 100th anniversary in 2025: “We kicked off fundraising in October of 2018 on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.”
Because of its $2.5 million price tag, the restoration was a giant leap for a church originally built by Genoese fishermen. However, Tabigue says that three-quarters of the money was raised by the beginning of this year. “Then one of our biggest donors fulfilled her promise, and we got to our goal of 2.5.” While the donor wishes to remain anonymous, Tabigue hinted, “I can tell you that it is a Catholic and Jewish family.”
"We found a red marble stone called ‘Rojo Alicante.’ "
Two design dilemmas caused delays: the weight of the floor and the addition of air conditioning. After the architectural engineering team calculated the weight of the marble, the basement supports needed reinforcement for the additional weight.
Kaszas said that the most difficult part of the restoration was adding air conditioning. “We had to add electricity from outside on Columbia. We lost a year.”
Adding marble has complicated the small church’s acoustics. Retired music director and organist Linda Colletti is working to to get the organ’s midi components replaced and is re-voicing its various stops. “We have a tremendous reverb.”