A 17 ft crucifix depicting a life-size statue of Jesus Christ on the cross will be hoisted into place today (2 November 2006) at Gorton Monastery in east Manchester. More than a decade since it was torn down and sold by developers when the monastery was left derelict, the 130 year old treasure will be lifted back into place 80 ft up above the high altar, marking another milestone in the restoration of the historic building.
The giant cross was rescued from Patricia Wengraf Ltd, an art dealer in London, just before it was due to be shipped across the Atlantic and sold to a church in Florida. The Monastery Trust persuaded Patricia Wengraf to stop the sale and they bought it back at a greatly reduced price of £20,000. Made of reconstituted stone and designed by Father Cuthbert it spans 10 feet, weighs 350kg and will take twelve men to carry it into the church and specialist equipment to it lift back into its original place.
Tony Hurley, the Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust's project manager said: "The crucifix is one of our most valuable treasures and to see it back in place over the altar is absolutely fantastic and quite emotional and it has been a long struggle to get to this point. This is a major milestone in the restoration of the building, which is on schedule for completion by next summer. We are very grateful to Patricia Wengraf Ltd and Martinspeed Ltd, the specialist storage and transport company, for helping us with its safe return."
Vernon Carter, MD of Restoration experts, William Anelay Ltd, who are undertaking the work on behalf of the Monastery Trust, added: "Facilitating the return of the crucifix has been an unusual and testing task for us. We are delighted that the Trust has placed their faith in our technical ability to meet the challenge."
The building is to become a community facility and conference centre and work is due to be completed by next summer with an official opening on 26 September 2007, exactly 135 years since the monastery first opened.
For more information or to donate call 0161 223 3211 or visit www.gortonmonastery.co.ukMedia contact
- Roz Hughes, tel 0161 223 3211