Restoration of Darboy monstrance made possible by local jeweler

Parish believes ornate monstrance may be 100 years old

DARBOY — Holy Spirit Parish has a bright and shiny monstrance to hold the consecrated host during exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, thanks to Scanlan Jewelers and Holy Spirit parishioner Rollie Probst.

Holy Spirit Parish in Darboy recently completed a restoration of this monstrance thanks to parishioner Rollie Probst, a sales consultant at Scanlan Jewelers of Appleton. The monstrance, which features a polished, decorative cross with angels, wheat in a basket and a fish, is used for adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. (Kathy Weigman | For The Compass )

The history of the monstrance is not well known, said Holy Spirit pastoral associate Sr. Annette Koss. “We think it might be 100 years old and may be from Germany,” she said.

What is known is that this “exquisite piece of church symbolism has been repaired and polished. The green enamel background is strong and the polished decorative cross, angels, wheat in a basket and fish will again have presence in our services for many years to come,” according to the parish bulletin.

The parish wanted to get the monstrance restored and had gotten an estimate for $2,600 from a firm in Milwaukee when Probst noticed it on the day of his mother’s funeral. He asked Sr. Annette about it and wondered why the parish hadn’t contacted local jewelers to see if they could recommend other businesses that replate and refurbish such items. He is a sales consultant at Scanlan Jewelers, which is near the Darboy parish, in Appleton.

He was shown other church vessels that needed cleaning or restoration. “I noted that they were gold-plated and could be cleaned up,” he said. “The silver monstrance, when I looked at it, was gold-plated underneath. To keep the expense down, I said I could clean it. Of course, this meant taking it all apart.”

He drew a diagram on where all the pieces went and used de-tarnishing agents to clean it. Then he put it all back together again.

The portal that displays the host had plastic in the front and back, “so this monstrance may have been restored before,” Probst said, “though plastic may have been available as early as the 1920s.” The work around the lenses was intricate and was completed with Q-tips cotton swabs.

The monstrance’s background of green enamel is made up of individual plates and the gold rays coming out of the center were held with two small screws.

“As I put it back together, I switched a couple of things and had trouble getting the angels back in,” said Probst. After redoing some of the work, he managed to get everything back in place.

The project took about 15 hours to complete, he said. “I would have charged about $350 for this work, but my boss, Judy Scanlan — owner of Scanlan Jewelers — said we could donate the labor and supplies.”

More about its history could be uncovered, Probst said, if someone wanted to research it. “There are three or four little hallmarks on it that could tell us about its history,” he said. But for now, parishioners will be enjoying the beautiful piece any time the Blessed Sacrament is exposed during adoration.