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    One of the highlights of the beatification rites of the first Filipino Saint Wednesday will be the unveiling by Pope John Paul II of the statue of Lorenzo Ruiz, which had been carved by one of the world's top sculptors.

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    Background: One of the highlights of the beatification rites of the first Filipino Saint Wednesday will be the unveiling by Pope John Paul II of the statue of Lorenzo Ruiz, which had been carved by one of the world's top sculptors.

    Acclaimed by Vatican's Art Critics, the three-meter image which will be the 0gift to the Filipino people had been the result of intensive research on the Saints life by Vatican eminent Artist. Tommaso Gismondi.

    Gismondi, who was here last month to oversee the mounting of the art work is one of the Vatican's principal artists, oftentimes even referred to as Modern day Michaelangelo.

    The Lorenzo Ruiz statue in whose face is visibly etched the suffering and ardent spirit of a Christian martyr, is mounted on a 16-ton gray and white solid baguio limestone.

    It now stands, at the Rizal Park facing the 1.5 million peso Pontifical Pavilion where the beatification rites will take place on February 18.

    "A beautiful piece of art, the Lorenzo statue depicts the facial expression of a dying martyr who chose the terrible option of death for Christ," said Ambassador Delgado who got the rare opportunity to view the statue at the Vatican before it was brought to the country.

    Gismondi earned worldwide distinction for several of his creations notably the Vatican coins.

    He studied and designed the Virgin Mary of Brazil. He also carved the three doors of the St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. His other works include several plaques and commemorative medals.

    For the eminence he had attained as an artist, Gismondi had been provided by the French government with a studio at Montmartre in Paris.

    Born in Anagni which is very near to Rome, he had lived in Argentina, New York, Spain and Paris. He studied arts in Academia de Roma.

    Because of his several commissioned art works at presented Gismondi could not wait to see his masterpiece mounted on the huge rock, a 16 ton gray and white Baguio limestone with dimensions of 3.2 meters high by 1.5M. wide.

    Instead, Gismondi before leaving last February 4, handed several instructions for the mounting of the state and entrusted its supervision to J. Eduardo C. Delgado, the son of the Ambassador to the Holy See and Investment manager of ACD, Inc.

    The statue is mounted on the Baguio rock temporarily installed under the Pope Pius Tree, a narra tree facing the 1.5 million peso Pontifical Pavilion at the Rizal Park.

    The monument will be transferred later to the Park of Binondo, the martyr's hometown.

    Delgado, who brought the rock from Baguio to Manila said, "it was a very tedious one week job from the extrication of the rock until it was transported to Rizal Park through an army truck."
    The extrication of the rock from its bed in barangay Irisan, four kilometer away from Baguio City was the cooperative effort of the City Mayor Brig. Gen. Ernesto Bueno and his secretary Willie Cacdac, Frank Arnobit of the Benguet Consolidated Inc. and the Ministry of Public Highways.

    It took 24 men to crate, drill and dynamite the rock to separate from its bed, a part of the Mirador Limestone formation which runs a ridge on the Northwestern edge of the City, according to Delgado.

    He said, we can envision that 400 years from now, people will admire Gismondi's works just like the way we appreciate Michaelangelo's works today. Gismondi is a principal sculptor of the Vatican today just like Michael Angelo was.

    It took a lot of perseverance and team work from the Filipino people, church hierarchy and the government to culminate on the greatest spiritual coups in the history and culture of the country, Delgado said.

    The beatification of the first filipino saint in a country other than the Vatican is an unprecedented action in the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church, he added.

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