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Words:
Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Etched concrete panels commemorate the 'Good Pope'

Though the ‘Good Pope’ John XXIII died in 1963, he had to wait to be made a saint until the year 2000 – a cool anniversary on which to receive the honour though. But he’s now been etched into history in another way – and not only by having a chapel built and dedicated to him in his home city of Bergamo in Italy. Set in the grounds of the city’s general hospital, the chapel is faced with concrete panels delicately etched with thousands of fern leaves. These were made by Finnish firm Graphic Concrete, which has developed a technique to apply a printed surface retarder to a membrane, against which the panels are then cast in moulds. The retarder slows the surface hardening, allowing it to be jet washed away and expose the grain of the concrete below. Would John XXIII agree with this verdant representation of himself, one wonders? God knows – but he was certainly a firm believer that goodness be more than skin deep.

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