Cathedral - The Exterior
On Saint Cecilia's feast day, November 22, 2000, a statue of Saint Cecilia and three other saints were blessed by Archbishop Elden Curtiss and placed in niches on the church's facade. The alcoves had been waiting eighty-eight years. All are originals and were carved in Italy of renowned Carrara marble. Saint Cecilia, at eight feet and the tallest, occupies a nice eighty-five feet above ground in the center of the west facade, the main entrance to the Cathedral. Her hair is unbound, maidenly, and her robe is loose and modest. The upturned face is given a luminescence by the white marble. In her arms, the patron saint of music holds a portative organetto, which could be played for its own sweet sound or to accompany singing. One is reminded of Psalm 150: "Praise the Lord with everything that has breath!" The statue of Saint Cecilia was an anonymous gift in memory of the Archbishop's mother, Mary Curtiss.
Also on the west facade, in two lower niches are four foot statues representing Saints Isidore and Juan Diego. The former, a twelfth-century Spanish farmer, is the patron of the agricultural workers. Hard working, poor, yet generous, he is shown with his spade. It is said that angels helped him with his plowing so that he would have time for his devotions. Juan Diego, also a laborer, was a Chichimeca Indian who was walking to Mass when the Virgin Mary appeared before him in December 1531. Despite the cold, his coarse cloak, or tilma, was filled with fragrant roses and imprinted with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as proof of the miracle for his bishop. A basilica was built in her honor at the site of the vision, in present-day Mexico City. Our Lady of Guadalupe is patron of the Americas. The figures were chosen to represent the people of God in Nebraska and to recognize the contributions of Hispanic immigrants to the archdiocese.
~The Beauty of Thy House, 2005