Cathedral’s Pieta corner now complete

Asbjorn Midtgaard and Madison Freund, Karl Freund’s daughter, dusted the railing-kneeler after it was installed Thursday, April 16, in the Gathering Space of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photos)


Those unable to visit the Vatican to see Michaelangelo’s Pieta can venerate a duplicate of one of the finest sculptures in the world in the Gathering Space of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Veneration, though, has been a challenge because the piece has been surrounded by stanchions since its installation in 2016.

Father Adam Keiter, the rector of the Cathedral, said that challenge has been overcome. A rail-kneeler, the final step of the Pieta’s installation, is now in place.

“We recognized that we needed to provide safety for the piece of art, and safety for those who want to admire the Pieta and pray there,” he said Thursday, April 16, after the kneeler was installed.
“We decided upon something that would serve in part as a barrier, but would serve primarily for a devotional purpose,” he said.

The kneeler allows the faithful to go up to the Pieta and pray, the rector said, “to enter into the sorrow of the Blessed Mother, to enter into Mary’s radical outpouring she expressed in union with Jesus’ own outpouring on Calvary.”

Michelangelo’s masterpiece helps those praying there to unite their sufferings with those of Jesus through the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of the Blessed Mother, Father Keiter said.

“This kneeler…will add a devotional aspect to this Gathering Space,” he said. “I hope to see a lot of people praying there.”

Kneeler style matches balcony

Karl Freund, the owner of Freund Custom Furnishings in Cheney, said the kneeler was designed to match the railing of the choir loft in the Cathedral. The columns are exact duplicates, he said, adding that the fabric used to cover the kneeler padding is the same fabric used for many liturgical furnishings in the Cathedral.

What those using the kneeler won’t see is the hidden engineering. “People, after they kneel, will push away from the railing,” he said. “So there was a lot of design work involved in the structure so that all of the stress goes to the corners.”

Freund said the curved railing is about 16-feet-long and “way too heavy for me to lift.”

He was the first person to kneel on the piece of furniture after it was installed in front of the statue.
“It was kind of a thrill for me as a person who has put so much time into it to come here and kneel and say a short prayer,” he said. “It was very, very rewarding.”