The Cathedral’s longtime master stone carver, Roger Morigi, was small in stature but a giant in his profession. Highly respected, he was a temperamental perfectionist who didn’t tolerate incompetence and wasn’t shy about sharing his opinions.
This gargoyle appears to be half-man, half-devil and is blowing its top. The left hand wields a chisel and the right hand a mallet. Carver’s tools protrude from the left pants pocket, while his right pocket contains tongue-in-cheek elements of Morigi’s Italian heritage: a pistol, dagger and flask.
Carver John Guarente designed this gargoyle in the 1960s after a disagreement with Morigi, and the final motif was kept secret from Morigi until it was completed. As the story goes, Morigi was just fine with his stone altar ego.
The Master Carver is one of 112 gargoyles and grotesques across the Cathedral, which act as water spouts to divert water away from the building. Gargoyles carry away excess water via pipe running through their mouths; grotesques deflect rainwater by bouncing it off the top of their heads, noses or other fanciful body parts. They are often (but not always) carved in the form of fantastic or imaginary animals or humans.