Sunday, July 03, 2016

"This "logo" mirrors the architecture of most modern day church buildings. It does not comfort the soul but rather makes you a little uneasy."


Ed. note:  The title for the post is taken from one of the crazy comments I came across at 1P5 regarding the Jubilee of Mercy logo.  What is wrong with these people?

San Francisco de Asis Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA.


I was looking for art and architecture in Catholic history to help illustrate that some so-called 'modernist' creations may really be rooted in tradition or at least not the break with it that some critics say it is.  I was thinking along these lines because of the ridiculous essay at 1P5 denouncing the Jubilee of Mercy logo, suggesting it is full of embedded imagery symbolic of occult or even Masonic origins.

I was searching for early, or even pre-medieval iconography of Northern Europe - such as might be seen on Rood Screens in Stave churches of Scandinavia, or even of illuminations and frescoes of Celtic origins to use as examples.  I also intended to research Catalan Romanesque fresco and New Mexican retablo, as well as Coptic iconography - all of which strike me as reminiscent of, or similar to Fr. Rupnik's work - including his design for the Year of Mercy logo.  I realize there is no chance I can convince critics with such evidence, since they are so well educated in art history and liturgical design, my word or opinion would be easily ignored.

Catalan Romanesque

Nevertheless, I came across something intriguing as regards the architecture of the Los Angeles Cathedral, which so many traditional Catholic purists love to hate.  Personally, I've always liked the Cathedral, and especially appreciated the stone used in the construction.  Today I came across the little church in Taos - made famous by Georgia O'Keefe, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how closely it resembled the architecture of Our Lady of the Angels.  In fact I at first mistook a photo I came across as a section I'd never seen of the Cathedral.  The adobe chapel style led me to wonder if perhaps architect Rafael Moneo was inspired by the Taos-mission style?  At any rate - I see a similarity in form, as well as precedent.

It seems to me many times American Catholics, especially Traditionalists, close themselves off to other cultures and traditions.  This seems particularly evident in Anglo attitudes toward the Latino cultures of the Americas. The most recent historical example of such bias and rejection I can think of, is when Bishop Lamy (+1888) banned and ordered the removal of indigenous religious art and retablos from chapels and churches in New Mexico after occupation of the territory by the US Army.

I also think Pope Francis, though the son of Italian immigrants, is often misunderstood because of his Latin American upbringing. As Fr. Schneider noted in an article for Crux:
Several times, Pope Francis has said things that have really shocked a number of North American Catholics. Yet if we put the comments in the context of Catholicism in other countries, often we’ll be shocked by the situation in those countries, not by the pope. - Crux

 It's well worth the read.

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An update from E:

The side-wound as mandorla
in Medieval illumination.


  1. Don't forget the mandorla as the side wound, and even the five wounds, of Christ.

    1. E to the rescue! Thanks for that link.

    2. Appreciate your post. Thanks Terry

  2. I have a particular interest in ecclesiastical architecture both Christian and Protestant. Growing up my parish had a colonial style church. It was very plain as befits the style. I remember nuns at school telling us how it wasn't a "good Catholic style. Not enough ornamentation I guess. They seemed to overlook that the tabernacle with Eucharist was present. I admire all styles and the craftsmanship in their creation. There are many fine examples filled with art works lovingly created. There are also many bad examples from all eras. The Trappist have always shied away from ornamentation. Likewise the Friends and Mennonites. Modern Churches come in all sizes and forms. Some work and are inspiring spiritual spaces. Some are not. The worst seem to be the redos that take one style and try to make it into another. It usually becomes a passing fad. I recently visit my first grade teacher who is now 87. She is a Sister of Mercy in retirement athe the community Mother House. Now call a Mercy Center. She took me to thei private chapel which is closed to the public. It is stunning with the most beautiful Bavarian stained glass. Choir stalls align the walls. Unfortunately it has mostly funerals now. I wonder who will care for it as the numbers dwindle? Many urban churches in my area of upstate are being closed and lost forever. Gutted, abandoned and sadly neglected. Some repurposed but most locked and forgotten. We become attached to buildings but really it is the Eurchrist being present that makes a Church Catholic. I recently attended the funeral of a dear friend at a Church built as OLPH. It has all the correct interior decorations. Our Lady lovingly gazed on us from a large dome. Below her was the giant picture of the pastor and his wife in white furs with large grins. The ministers wore clerical cassocks trimmed in red. It is now The Cathederal of Hope. It was a beautiful memorial service. But, I commented to a friend, even with all the trappings, it was not longer a Catholic Church to me. You see there was no red candle burning to tell me the Eurchrist resided there. I was a little surprised at my reaction. Reminded me of receiving communion at an Anglician service once. For me it was not authentic. I had a feeling of something missing, something lost. Anyway, I ramble. So, enough. I like Church architecture too Terry all styles. I love Catholic Churches, any style, that has the Eurchrist present. That is what is really important, I think.

    1. I'm with you - the Blessed Sacrament is what matters most.


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