WASHINGTON — The look of astonishment on the face of the woman at the Resurrection is beautifully etched. The holes in Christ’s hands seem like they were finished yesterday. The entire scene looks fresh from the hand of the stone mason.

But the limestone sculpture high in the ceiling of Washington National Cathedral is about half a century old, and its newly pristine appearance is an unusual byproduct of the 2011 earthquake.

The cathedral announced this week that it has completed the first, $10 million, phase of a $32 million earthquake repair project, which fixed all the internal damage and some of the external damage to the building.

The interior work required a complex system of scaffolding, some of which was attached to the ceiling with thick steel cables run through openings where chandeliers once hung. While workers repaired damage to the ceiling, they also cleaned decades of candle soot and grime from the surface and the carvings.

The carvings, which officials said date back to the 1960s and the 1920s, depict scenes from the Bible and Christian tradition. In some cases the stone was so dirty that it turned from dark gray to nearly white after it was cleaned.

One scene was that of the Resurrection. Another depicted Christ cooking a meal of fish over a fire. All the work was done in Indiana limestone.

“I’m just amazed at the workmanship,” said Joe Alonso, chief cathedral stone mason. “You go back in the east end of the building, there’s an area where no one’s been up there in that ceiling since 1917.”

The repairs were made to cracked stone and to mortar that was dislodged during the 5.8 magnitude quake that shook the Washington area on Aug. 23, 2011.

In the hours after the quake, workers found the floor littered with “debris fields” that had fallen from the ceiling, Alonso said.

“When the quake happened. . . the ceiling rattled . . . (and) joints opened,” Alonso said. Bits of mortar and stone fell.

“All that’s been taken care of,” he said. Cracks have been fixed. Mortar has been replaced. And in a few cases loose stones have been replaced or refastened.

A huge net was installed below the ceiling to catch any more debris, and then workers erected the scaffolding to make the fixes.

The last of the netting came down about a month ago, and with the repairs complete, the scaffolding will be down by the end of March, said Jim Shepherd, the director of preservation and facilities.

As for the stone cleaning, much of that was done with sponges and water, Alonso said.

The huge stained glass windows were also cleaned and fixed, and some have been sent out for restoration. Repairs have also been completed to the “flying buttress” supports on the exterior of the cathedral.

“I am thrilled that this phase is coming to an end,” Alonso said.

“Every square inch of this ceiling has been literally touched by human hands. The interior is back,” he said.

“It’s sort of a nice completion milestone,” Shepherd said. “It represents how much we were able to do with the money we had in hand. But, you know, it’s daunting that we still have $22 million more to raise and a lot more work to do.”

“The most exciting thing is that the inside will be returned to its glory,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do on the outside. But people really wanted their space back.”