A group of four seniors and one junior spent all day Sunday doing stone work at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in center city, helping to construct the Knotty Grotto, an exhibit for the Pope’s visit.
Designed by artist Meg Saligman, the exhibit will have several hundred thousand ribbons tied to it, each provided by someone stating a problem they are dealing with. The idea is that faith will untie the knots.
The grotto contains a 22-foot wide and 10-foot high wooden structure containing the ribbons sitting on a 19-foot by 42-foot stone base. The students worked with 4,000 pounds of stone, which was on loan from Galantino Masonry and Landscape Supply Co. in Springfield. Rob O’Sullivan, a landscaper who is working on the exhibit, in discussions with Vince Galantino, owner of Galantino Masonry, decided Williamson masons would be perfect to help with the project. When they approached Dan Hiltebeitel, Williamson’s director of construction technology-masonry, with their request for volunteers, the students jumped at the opportunity to do something for the pope.
The students who worked on the project are seniors Dominic Ortiz, who served as foreman, Liam Salvatore, Cody Palmer, and Ryan Drakeley, and junior Bob Sandlin.
Dominic said: “Working on this project was a great experience. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This was a very special project and we were honored to be a part of it. This is something we will remember the rest of our lives.”
Liam Salvatore said, “This was a cool project. It was definitely worth the effort and was a great experience. Quite a few people talked to us about what we were doing and that made it even more enjoyable.”
Anyone wishing to see the Knotty Grotto can visit the Cathedral at 1723 Race St., Philadelphia.