Our Lady of The Rosary

Location: San Diego, California
Completed: 2020

Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church is the center of spiritual life in San Diego’s Little Italy. First blessed on Christmas Eve 1923, the church was a labor of love built by the Italian-Americans of the area. Father Rabagliati, the founding pastor, was determined that the interior of the church reflect the artistic traditions of the churches in Italy. Father commissioned Venetian painter, Fausto Tasca and renowned Italian sculptor, Carlos Romanelli, to paint ornate murals that depict symbolic scenes from the old and new Testaments. The years had taken their toll on the decorative interior as the murals were covered under many layers of dirt, candle soot and discolored varnish. Much of the original decoration was faded or had been painted over in previous renovation campaigns. The restoration was guided by an historic black and white photograph. The photo clearly indicated the original decorative scheme, however the original colors could only be speculated upon at this point in the process.

CSS was commissioned to conduct an on-site investigation and documentation of the original colors, as well as, document the existing conditions of the murals. The investigation of the decorative scheme included the execution of exposure windows and an analysis of core samples. The investigation of the murals included cleaning tests, adhesion analysis and the development of a detailed treatment plan for their conservation. Upon the completion of the investigation, a full-scale sample was produced to allow the committee and parishioners a glimpse of the original grandeur, and what would be to come throughout the entire church.

CSS services included the development of fundraising material for the project that included a tri-fold brochure and poster. These materials featured a colored rendering of the church with its original colors decorative scheme and helped communicate the vision, as well as, the financial support needed to bring the project to fruition. Once the funds were in place, the project was full-steam ahead. Cracked plaster was repaired, historic stencils were reapplied, murals were conserved and the statues and Stations were repaired and touched up.

Project Team:

Artists and Conservators at Conrad Schmitt Studios

Our Lady of The Rosary

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