Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- The entrance to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor used to have a badly designed set of stairs that were tough to descend.

But now those stairs are gone, as crews begin building a brand new entrance with a plaza at the door, leading to much safer steps.

'The function of the church is going to be improved greatly because before you came out the doors, and you were right on the steps, it was easy to trip and fall,' said Robby Cangelosi of Koch and Wilson Architects.

This is one of a series of improvements to the historic church in time for January's 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, when the nuns prayed for General Andrew Jackson's victory over British troops, seeking quick help, or prompt succor, from the mother of Jesus Christ/

The anniversary will be a major ceremony.

'People really are excited about 200 years, 200 years of a miraculous victory,' said Shrine Director Sister Carla Dolce. 'It's part of our culture. It's part of our New Orleans.'

The new entrance should be completed by Thanksgiving, but there are a number of other projects the sisters are still working to get finished in time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.

Inside, crews are hand cleaning the walls of the Shrine, removing decades of dirt and soot. Then there are other renovations, including a new sound system.

'Then we're going to paint and we're going to improve the lighting and then put some pews in,' said project manager Leon Poche. 'We still need to raise about $350,000 to complete the project.'

'You can give $10,000, you can give $10. Whatever you give you're in it, you're part of it,' Dolce said.

For more information, call the Shrine office at 866-0200, or visit their website.

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