5 questions about working for the pope

From: Concord Monitor Date: Feb. 21, 2008 Author: Joelle FarrellRyan Mullen, a 2002 graduate of Trinity High School in Manchester, helped design the altar, pulpit, lectern and chair that will be used during Mass when Pope Benedict XVI visits Washington, D.C., in April. Trinity High School will honor Mullen tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. and display models of his design.

Mullen, 24, is a graduate student studying architecture at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He earned both a bachelor's degree in architecture and a bachelor's in civil engineering in 2007 from the university.

Mullen and another architecture student, John-Paul Mikolajczyk, entered their design in a competition that included 20 other submissions. They designed a model of a pulpit adorned with images of the Bible and the Holy Trinity and a tall chair back decorated with Pope Benedict XVI's papal coat of arms. The archdiocese of Washington, D.C., chose the winners in January.

How did you decide on the design? I guess the biggest ideas were to have something that looked simple yet elegant. It was going to be up on a stage and would be seen from far away. . . . The altar . . . was actually partially based off my church at home, St. Marie's in Manchester. It has an altar that's a slab on top and open underneath.

The altar top has five crosses on it. Those represent the five wounds of Christ. . . . The papal chair was partially modeled after the throne they have at the shrine at the national campus.

How long did you have to work on the project? We all were given five days to come up with the design. . . . Over the weekend, J.P. and myself had gone to the library and looked at pictures of other past papal visits to get an idea of the scale of the furnishings. . . . Monday was when we actually started designing it. So the pope's going to sit in your chair? Yeah.

How's that feel? I don't know. It's a little bit exciting. J.P. and I were surprised that they actually had the competition in the first place.

What will happen to your creations after the Mass? We're hoping that they can be re-used in a church that needs them. The diocese will decide.