Sacred Architecture

Benedict XVI and the Way of Beauty

 Something unusual is revealed here as well: the house of God is the true house of humans.  It becomes the house of humans even more the less it tries to be this and the more it is simply put up for him.  — Pope Benedict XVI In modern memory, has there been a Pope who [...]

Modern Ambiguity Amid Baroque Splendor

We are all familiar with the truism that a picture is worth a thousand words, and there are likely few places in the world where its use is more appropriate than the Eternal City. Rome is a city of messages. To walk in centro—that is, through the historic city center—is to move figuratively through three [...]

Against the Senseless Destruction of Churches

Last year, L’Eglise de Notre Dame de l’Assumption, in the old fishing port of Arichat, Nova Scotia, celebrated its 175th anniversary.  Its twin spires overlook the bay where John Paul Jones, to Americans a hero but to loyal Canadians a pirate and a traitor, once trained his guns, and sure enough, near the corner of [...]

The Casino and the Cathedral: On Recovering Our Abandoned Culture

Today’s pagan temples and chapels—capitalistic institutions bent on money making no matter what—have appropriated Catholic styles, symbols, art, liturgy, and rubrics just as Catholics have lost confidence in them. They are winning and we are not. It’s time for Catholicism to become newly aware of the richest of our own symbols lest we lose out [...]

After Architectural Modernism

It was the summer of 1947. The Second World War was still a painful recent memory, and much of Europe was still a bombed-out shambles.  The Korean War was still three years in the future, and the Second Vatican Council wouldn’t convene its opening sessions for another fifteen years.  During this summer, a fifty year-old [...]

How John Paul II Restored Liturgical Sanity

We tend to think of the papacy of Benedict XVI as the papacy that put the Catholic liturgy back together again, turning the “hermeneutic of rupture” into the “hermeneutic of continuity.” Rarely receiving the credit for preparing the way is John Paul II, who labored mightily and brilliantly during his pontificate—in a long and consistent [...]

Why Seminarians Should Study Sacred Art and Architecture

One of the recommendations of Vatican II was that priests be formed in the arts: “During their philosophical and theological studies, clerics are to be taught about the history and development of sacred art, and about the sound principles governing the production of its works. In consequence they will be able to appreciate and preserve [...]

Fashion and Design Ideology in Sacred Architecture: A Review of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Where to begin? Well, there are hardly any right angles in this building. Broken forms, discontinuities, and protrusions in its geometry both inside and outside characterize the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Such imbalance and departure from mathematical harmony is usually explained away by labeling it a “postmodern-deconstructivist” building, as if style were [...]

A Tale of Two Cathedrals: Why “Traditional versus Modernist” Tells Only Part of the Story

Here we have two recent Cathedrals of similarly grand scale and with contrasting architectures. The juxtaposition of the two styles makes an interesting case study for the “traditional versus modernist” debate over which architectural style is most appropriate for worship. Debates of this kind usually begin over obvious characteristics of style. But following a close [...]

The Sculptor of the Beau Dieu

He lived in an age when artists were beginning to make names for themselves. The master-mason Hugues Libergier, whose funerary slab may be seen today in the cathedral of Reims, was his contemporary. Robert de Luzarches and Thomas de Cormont, the masters of the work at Amiens, were his collaborators. The century before, one who [...]

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