The Vatican, in Weston, in gingerbread

The Vatican in Gingerbread

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

WESTON—Know that feeling when you hear about something and you’re not sure you believe it, and then you actually see it? Yes, that jaw-dropping sensation of ‘Oh WOW!’

Holy Trinity parishioners Lori Matthews, Maresa Fisher and Lisa Stiffler have worked together for a little more than a month to recreate the Vatican out of gingerbread, pretzels and fondant. There are even stained-glass windows. When you see the completed model…well, you have to see it!

For the 175th anniversary of the founding of the parish last year, the church was decorated to be part of Weston’s Holiday Homes Tour. A model of the church was constructed by Lori and another parishioner in gingerbread, and was prominently displayed.

Early this past month, Fr. Steven Rogers, pastor of Holy Trinity, suggested another gingerbread project, but on a larger scale: the Vatican.

Lori was surprised by the scope of the suggestion; the sheer size of the actual building, which she has visited three times, could have been daunting. She recruited Maresa and Lisa, two women who had been Holy Trinity parishioners for years, but she had never really talked to. Maresa, an entrepreneurial artist who designed and painted a Charles Dickens scene for the display the previous year was interested, as was Lisa, who had recently quit her job and so was at home. She enjoyed baking too!

The three women have become close friends, through 48 pounds of flour, 22 pounds of powdered sugar, seven bags of marshmallows, many sticks of butter, spices and other ingredients over their many hours of labor.

How did they figure out how much flour, sugar and marshmallows to buy? What about dimensions and the shape of the structure? Matthews had a great idea: a 3-D puzzle of the Vatican, which she found online.

After completing the puzzle, Lisa measured sections and multiplied the dimensions by 3. Each section was baked, cooled and allowed to dry so as to be easier to work with.

The gingerbread puzzle pieces were brought to the parish hall and assembled in place. Maresa had painted a sweeping backdrop of evergreen trees on 4’x8’panels. As the Vatican began to take shape, workers arrived to redo the flooring in the hall.

Lori said the men quickly installed a section of flooring, so the assembly of the model Vatican could continue uninterrupted.
Of course, the two 8’ tables the model sits on will have to be moved when the floor is done, but with many willing hands the work should be light.

The women said Fr. Rogers has given them a lot of freedom on the project. In fact, one mid-November day Lori and Lisa each put in 12 hours of work on the model.

Maresa has designed and painted four 4’x8’ Nutcrackers to serve as the ‘Swiss Guards’, connected by ropes to prevent inquisitive visitors from touching the model, which could damage it.

There are a great number of finishing touches to complete; even so, the effect is breathtaking. The Holiday Market will be open Dec. 1-2, with a German feast served both days. The gingerbread Vatican, decorated for Christmas with wreathes, will be the centerpiece of the market. As Lori quipped, “If you can’t go to Rome, come to Weston!” It’s much closer.


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October 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph