We reproduce below the news "Restoring the Holy Ark is a good investment for Oviedo and Asturias." by Juan Carlos Abad, which you can also find on the website of El Comercio.
Although the Holy Ark has already been shining for a month under its methacrylate shell, yesterday, the person in charge of the conservation work of the reliquary, Paz Navarro, presented the fruits of her labor to a large audience gathered for this purpose in the chapter house of the Cathedral.
The ceremony was presided over by the archbishop of the diocese, Jesús Sanz Montes, but it was the host, the dean Benito Gallego, who opened the speech highlighting "the collaboration and cooperation of the different entities and administrations" involved in the Spanish Heritage Institute (IPCE) being in charge of restoring the ark. Gallego also wanted to take the opportunity to "remind everyone that this work is a very good investment for Oviedo and Asturias, not only for the Cathedral". The financing of the work, 56,000 euros, was provided by the Cabildo.
Together with the prelate and the canon, the director general of Fine Arts and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Education, Luis Lafuente, the minister of the branch, Genaro Alonso, and the vice-counselor Vicente Domínguez García, sat at the table. All of them highlighted the complicity between administrations and praised the good hand of Navarro and his team of the Granda Art Workshop to return the splendor of a unique piece for its age and workmanship.
"The recovery of the original pantocrator was the hardest work," said Navarro. Also in the audience was the general director of Heritage, Otilia Requejo, as well as the mayor of Oviedo, Wenceslao López, and the councilor of Culture, Roberto Sánchez Ramos. Both walked from the Plaza de la Constitución to the temple of San Salvador on the eve of the installation of the stage for the San Mateo concerts. What was last year the reason for the dispute between the Cabildo and the Consistory, and which reached its climax with the double disagreement of the broth of Holy Thursday and the strawberries of the corpus, yesterday went unnoticed among the general good tone. Even the bishop started his speech with a soccer joke before raising the tone to a quasi homily about art as fuel for the soul.
Paz Navarro carried the weight of the talk. She illustrated with slides the restoration process that began last March. From the first X-rays to the hand-washing process of the niello that covers the wooden structure. This was the first time that the Holy Ark had been touched since that post-revolutionary (or pre-war) 1935 and when it was dismantled there were surprises.
"Restoring the pantocrator was the hardest work," explained the restorer. With the work carried out by the jeweler Felix Bascarán 80 years ago, one was placed over the original Romanesque one, which is the one that has now been left on view. In addition, the restorers shored up the wooden structure and cleaned the niello and the "blackened" silver so that the Holy Ark would regain its shine.