Eight-hundred and fifty ordinary Americans from across the United States sent small items of silver for the making of a beautiful Gothic chalice that will be presented to Pope Francis during his visit to the United States next week. The chalice was designed and made by the Argentinian silversmith Adrian Pallarols, a friend of the pope, at his workshop in Buenos Aires during the summer.
“We received rings, chains, pendants, earrings, bracelets and broken pieces of silver,” Pallarols told me. Some of the items arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, others were sent to a family in Miami that assisted in collecting the silver, but most were sent directly to his workshop in Buenos Aires.
He received a total of 850 items of silver that weighed 7.3 kilograms (16.1 pounds). He melted them all at is foundry and then began work. “This chalice was made in the name of the humblest people, who probably never will have the chance to meet the Holy Father or touch his hands. All this was made in their name,” Pallarols said.
As reported earlier in America, the design for the chalice was the brainchild of Pallarols. He said he was inspired by the predominant style of the churches in the United States, and in particular by St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The chalice in rich in symbolism, Pallorls explained. There is a node in the chalice, for example, which has two galleries, each with six columns that represent the 12 apostles—the pillars of the church. The Gothic galley of the node is composed of 60 pieces.
A map of the United States with Alaska and the Hawaiian islands has been placed at the center of the node, so that when the pope puts his hand around the node to raise the chalice at Mass, he will in fact be symbolically embracing all the people of the United States.
Ornaments that create the cup of the chalice are inserted in the capitals of the columns, depicting the fruits of the Garden of Eden. Three precious stones of ruby, sapphire and crystal, have been inserted into the cup of the chalice; they represent the colors of the flag of the United States and, coincidentally, the colors of the three cities that Francis will visit: Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. The stones also represent the colors that are prominent in the image of “Our Lady, Undoer of Knots,” to which Bergoglio became particularly devoted since his days in Germany. A papal crest has been engraved in the chalice opposite the rose of St. Therese of Liseux, to whom Francis has a special devotion.
At the base of the 30-centimeter (almost one-foot-tall) chalice one can see engraved the flags of the United States and the Holy See, symbolizing a union between the two states. The chalice weighs 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) and the Communion paten—on the base of which is a hand-chiseled medallion of the Our Lady, Undoer of Knots—weighs 300 grams (0.66 pounds). The three precious stones—ruby, crystal and sapphire (red, white and blue)—have also been inserted into the paten.
This magnificently crafted chalice is made of more than 85 different pieces that are either screwed into or soldered together by hand. This fine work of craftsmanship has already gained high praise on Twitter from the Papal Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini. It will be presented to Pope Francis during his visit to the United States. Exactly how and where this will be done is not clear at the time of writing.
Some 5.8 kilos of silver remained after the making of the chalice. Pallarols said this will be sold and the proceeds will be made available to the Pope for whatever charitable purpose he decides.