Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gate of Heaven: The importance of church doors to evangelization and catechetics.

Holy Doors.
"I think doors are so important to our Church and it is something that we as Catholics have neglected terribly in modernism. Perhaps it can start turning around. Doors need to be part of our envangelization as they were in the past. I have heard others compare the doors of a church to represent the Veil of the Bride and the sanctuary Her Face as she awaits Her Groom!" - Anthony Visco
Locally, many modern churches are adding glass doors, which permit a view into the sanctuary when the church is closed. Yet many of the grand old churches and cathedrals seem to have wonderful bronze doors with scenes from the lives of the saints or Christ and the Gospel. As with the great facades depicting angels and saints and the mysteries of faith, Church art is meant to instruct and edify the viewer, believer and non believer alike. The iconoclasm of modernism has pretty much obstructed doctrine as well as devotion. Today artists such as Anthony Visco are reversing that trend.
Art: Anthony Visco's design for the doors of the church of Saint Stephen Martyr on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. - a modern design church with an interesting interior made of parabolic curves. It is where the Kennedys went to Mass when they were in the White House. Visit Anthony Visco here.


  1. Nancy8:01 PM

    As an aside, your post reminded me of something I saw in 2000 (and I wasn't Catholic at the time). When I was walking past the cathedral I saw over the main door a banner for the Great Jubilee with its motto "Open Wide the Doors to Christ". Then right below it was a sign on the door which said, "The doors will be unlocked 1 hour before Mass."

    It was funny, even though it wasn't intended to be so, but I guess there is a bit of a sad reality that our doors can't be as open as they ought to be.

  2. I immediately thought of the other holy doors; the ones in the Iconostasis at Orthodox or some Eastern Catholic churches.

  3. Carol9:24 PM

    When I hear the word "doors" I recall the Great Pontiff, all bent over and all alone, standing at the enormous doors with his staff. An incredible image.

    And I don't want to say where, but all of our town's Catholic churches' doors are unlocked all day, except the Eastern rite one. I guess we're luckier tha we know.

  4. Interesting - I just did a post on religious art, showing many beautiful images of the incredible art of the past ages.

    I think the door to the Church should be the entrance to all that is holy inside, and should be an architectural delight to behold; a promise of what is in store once you pass through to the interior of the Church.

    Sadly, though, what is often found inside is devoid of any imagination and artistic talent. We have lost so much of our heritage in the past century that it saddens me. Religious art can be so uplifting and most certainly fills the purpose of drawing ones heart and mind to God.

  5. Anonymous10:50 AM

    There's something magical about entering the doors of lovely church, leaving the world and its noise, behind.

  6. I just clicked on the link: Anthony Visco's work is gorgeous! Thank you --I hadn't heard of him, and I'm so glad to peruse all this. Some of his sculpting reminded me of a Deposition I'd seen over at the Web Gallery of Art (pulling up the Deposition there, in all its forms by even the eldest masters, was terrific viaticum for the Lenten mind, perhaps even more telling for modern man than the Pietas, for it shows all of us around Him), and it was Donatello's details to which I likened Visco's work. Just beautiful.. so much food for thought. Thank you.

  7. Anonymous12:10 PM

    And, in case I never said it where any could see, your own work is deep, Terry, and enthralling. You have an exquisite eye for beauty even amid the sometimes uglinesss of Man. I can't help wondering what you would design for church doors, in what form, and in what medium. I'll bet you've even done some drawings of it all..

    We have some beautiful cathedrals not far away, but the doors to our own St. Mary's look like something out of Robin Hood. Well, I suppose much of the inside does as well; old isn't always beautiful. But the 2-story stained glass windows soften/colour it all, and above each of the three doors outside there's an arch in lighter masonry, very much like a peaked Mantle.. I guess one could say it's just the right understated blend of authoritative holiness and protection ("Mother and Teacher"). The left-side windows let in the trains during every homily, but the heavy doors mute the motorcycles very well--another reason to not have glass doors!


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