WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSMiami) — When organizers learned Pope Francis would celebrate an outdoor mass in front of thousands at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; they realized they would need a new altar and papal chair. Deacon Dave Cahoon, a carpenter from Maryland, took on the challenge.READ MORE: Attorney: School Gunman Nikolas Cruz To Plead Guilty To Massacre; Parkland Families React
Building furniture is usually an easy job but even Cahoon admits this job was daunting.
“The Holy Father is going to be here and it’s just gotta be ready for him in time,” said Cahoon.
Cahoon is a deacon at his church in Maryland so this job was especially meaningful.
“It’s an honor and it’s an opportunity for me to give back the talents god has given me.”
Not only did he build the pope his papal chair, he also built a new altar for the service, meticulously hand painted to match the marble inside the basilica.
After the Papal Mass, the new altar will replace the existing one, as a permanent piece of history.
“Having the altar that the Holy Father used reminds us of his presence,” said Monsignor Walter Rossi of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.READ MORE: Nikolas Cruz Pleads Guilty In BSO Jail Guard Attack
In all, there are 16 pieces that took thousands of hours to construct. Cahoon never forgot who he was building it for.
“Yeah, that’s the exciting part about it,” he said.
The chair was delivered ahead of schedule but Cahoon said he won’t be able to relax until it’s all over.
“There will be a lot of relief once it’s over I’m sure.”
Furniture making is Cahoon’s life’s work, and He said this is the most important work of his life.
All the furniture was designed by students at Catholic University. Cahoon also built the papal chair and altar for Pope Benedict’s visit to Washington in 2008.
Pope Francis will actually find new, specially built furniture at all of his stops in the U.S., not just Washington, D.C.
In New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan turned to a day labor center where mostly immigrant laborers built the pope’s chair for his Mass at Madison Square Garden. Young men at Lincoln Hall Boys Haven built the altar. Dolan said he selected the groups in keeping with the pope’s emphasis on respecting workers, immigrants and those on the margins of society.MORE NEWS: Parkland Survivor David Hogg On Potential Guilty Plea: 'It's Horrific That Our Community Has To Continue Going Through This'
In Philadelphia, prison inmates learning carpentry at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center labored over his papal chair. The inmates assembled, carved, sanded and stained the 6-foot walnut chair for four weeks. During his visit to Philly, Pope Francis will visit the neighboring Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on Sept. 27.