VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 1997 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the program for the restoration and preservation of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica, a project which is expected to be completed by September 1999.

Participants in the conference included Msgr. Vittorio Lanzani, secretary to Cardinal Virgilio Noe, who is archpriest of the Vatican basilica and president of the Fabric of St. Peter's, and Pierluigi Silvan, director of the Fabric, the Vatican organism responsible for the maintenance and preservation of the basilica. Also present were officials from ENI, the Italian oil and gas company which will assist in the restoration: Guglielmo Moscato, president; Franco Bernabe, CEO and managing director; and Daniela Viglione, managing director of Sogedit, the ENI company in charge of communications activities.

Msgr. Lanzani explained that the current restoration project follows the cleaning undertaken in 1985-86, which was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Prof. Silvan added that "the previous project was of high quality but it is believed that current technology and updated knowledge can lead to more lasting results."

Guglielmo Moscato stated that ENI, following its tradition of service to the communities in which it operates, is "pleased to provide the scientific and technological support for the restoration and reservation of the facade of St. Peter's. ... This is for us a very special project because of the religious significance of St. Peter's and because of the role that this wonderful church will have in the upcoming Holy Year."

He said that the initial work of analysis had already begun and that the necessary steps are being taken "to monitor the environmental conditions that exist in the area of St. Peter's, including the dome."

Franco Bernabe explained the techniques and sophisticated equipment that ENI would use during the restoration. He said that "in order to identify the best scientific solutions to the extremely complex issues related to the degradation of monuments, it is first necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of the structure of the materials: their morphology, molecular make-up and surface characteristics, which are often quite different from those of their mass."

Pierluigi Silvan of the Fabric of St. Peter's reviewed "the rich and complex history of the construction of the basilica of St. Peter's" and illustrated the work phases. He said that the restoration and preservation will occur in three phases: The first, lasting nine months, will involve work on the outer sides of the facade; the second, also nine months, will concern the lateral gates, the third and final stage, with no specified time, will entail work on the central part of the facade and statues located on the balustrade. Stainless steel scaffolding will be mounted in March.

The facade measures 115 meters in width by 45 in height and is roughly 6,000 square meters in surface. There are 8 columns, each measuring 27.4 meters in height and 2.77 in diameter. The balustrade has 13 statues, each 5.7 meters high.

Daniela Viglione announced that "a comprehensive communication program of a documentary and scientific nature will accompany the restoration." It will also be possible to follow the progress through ENI's Internet site.

Pierluigi Silvan pointed out that 2006 will mark the 500th anniversary of the laying of the cornestone of St. Peter's Basilica. He added: "It is hoped that a continued collaboration with ENI will allow for restoration of other external areas of the basilica."

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 10.03.2011 - 02:45