Getting to know the chimeras that have been atop the Cathedral for many years

Maura Baker, Staff Writer
It has been over a month since the iconic chimeras from the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington’s, roof were removed from their perch. After years of damage from the elements, the statues known as chimera (or gargoyles), will be recreated in terra cotta to preserve their iconic image for years to come as part of the Cathedral’s “Restored in Christ” initiative to maintain its outer beauty. 

After being safely and tightly secured in plastic and lowered via a crane, the chimera will soon be loaded onto a truck for their destination — Boston Valley Terra Cotta in Orchard Park, New York, who will be responsible for this restorative project.t 

As the “Restored in Christ” initiative unfolds over the next several months, thanks to the cataloguing of Stephen Enzweiler, Cathedral historian and archivist, the Messenger will illustrate and introduce many of the chimera. This week we meet the Shrouded Bird. 

My name is the Shrouded Bird— in French, Osieau Enrubanne, as my cousin on the roof of Paris’s Notre Dame would be referred to. Much like my fellow rooftop friend, the Vampire, my design was originally a creation by French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc for the Notre Dame — but I was recreated by the hands of artist Edward Johnston, and brought to life by the Carl Brothers in Cincinnati, Ohio, between the years 1908 and 1910. 

Unlike some of my fellow chimera, some of which weigh well over 500–600 lbs., I can brag that I did not “strain the crane” this March when I was brought down from the Cathedral rooftop, as I am on the lighter side at 312.5 lbs. After all, a bird needs to be light in order to fly. 

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