Altar Pieces for The Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park is stunning. Congregants and visitors walk into a hall that features high ceilings, clear redwood beams, and a beautiful stained glass window.

Church of the Nativity’s pastor, Monsignor Steven Otellini, called us to ask if we could design and build some new pieces for the church’s altar — a pair of vases and a sanctuary lamp, which holds a candle that hangs next to the tabernacle.

These were more than new pieces for the church, though. They were being crafted to help a long time member of the church honor her husband, who had recently passed.

We went down to meet with Monsignor Otellini and the woman to better understand their wants.

The church had some pieces made by Dirk Van Erp, a famous San Francisco coppersmith, that matched what they were looking for in style and detail.

With that information in mind, Rick went back to the shop and sketched out some preliminary ideas. Monsignor Otellini and the woman liked the direction but asked for something bigger. The next set of drawings were spot on, so then the Biro and Sons team got to work.

“What was special about these pieces was their size and detail,” explains Rick. “Every special order is different and, this one took all of our skill and experience to bring to life.”

The vases, which sit on a shelf next to the altar,  are made from copper and then silver-plated. Each vase is 25 inches tall. “When you look at it from the front it looks like a full round vase,” Rick says, “so it turned out looking great and just what they wanted.”

The sanctuary lamp is about four feet tall with the chain and fixture.

Rick delivered the new pieces to the church a couple of weeks before Christmas 2017 and helped the staff with the installation.

“The woman who commissioned the project was there when we were putting everything together,” Rick recalls. “She took a photo and had a little smile on her face. When she sent me the photo she wrote, ‘I am very pleased.’”