Look at this!

| | Comments (2)

A Catholic Mom gave me a tip in the comments about this: St. Martin's Episcopal's new church building with its beautiful stained glass windows. Go and look at its website, and look at the beautiful building they have built. Be sure to click on the pages for their stained glass windows. Truly glorious, in my opinion, and really too bad that our Catholic churches, at least in the main, are not anywhere near so wonderful. (Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston is an example of new construction done well, I think. Unfortunately, around here, they are the exception, not the rule.)

Being the "I like the old churches" person that I am, though, I wonder if it would be possible to build a modern church that is not simply a copy of the past, but a modern building done beautifully--with beautiful statues, windows, etc. So many of the modern building fall into "modernism" by using ugly statues in particular. One of the Catholic parishes in our diocese (to remain nameless, since I'm dogging them) built a new sanctuary. It looks like a theater in the round. Even if you could make that work some way, they have filled niches in the outside arc wall with the ugliest statues you can imagine. I was told that the building comittee was going to put in NO statues at all, but one of the big donors was insistent that the Catholic tradition entailed having statues of saints and that he would withdraw his money if there weren't some statues--no sterile "worship space" for him. When the statues were purchased, they were in the "primitive" style--which does not, in fact, match the building itself. If I were that donor, I would have seen it as a slap in the face (which, I think, it was intended to be).

Building a church must be the hardest thing in the world. How do you do something new (and even I realize that new does not necessarily equal bad) without being trendy and stupid? There are a zillion church structures (of all stripes) built in the 60's, 70's and 80's that now look silly because they were trying to look "modern" then.

I'd love for someone to give our church enough money for a new building.

But I'd hate to be on the committee that decided what that building should be.


I had the opportunity to talk to John Clements,the primary architect for St. Martin's Episcopal Church. He was very kind and spent a couple of hours telling my daughter all about the career of an architect. Right now that is her goal. After hearing him speak I decided if I ever was going to build a church, he would be the architect. Take a look at the plans for St. Francis Church in Frisco, TX. Mr. Clements is a devout Catholic and spoke of how important to keep the Eucharist central to church design. He said the design for St. Francis combines some of the modern concept of the circular sanctuary without losing the long processional aspect of the traditional cross-shaped church. He likened his design to a monstrance with the Eucharist at the center. I also like that the seating does not go all the way around the altar. It is not a theater-in-the-round. You may also want to wander over to Shrine of the Holy Whapping for some discussion of St. Raymond of Penafort that is located near my home in Fairfax County, VA. While the professional architects in the discussion may quibble over the design, I can tell you it is a perfectly wonderful new church with a beautiful central tabernacle, great statuary, and marvelous stained glass windows.The stained glass windows were salvaged from churches torn down in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. I would say things are looking up in the Church architecture department.

The St. Francis church in Frisco reminds me of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller (both in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex).


Many similarities there, but there are no good pictures of SEAS on their website, unfortunately. We don't go there regularly, but have been there a few times, and it works OK as a worship space--but you can't put a small church girl like me in a huge church and make me overly comfortable. I am grateful for our tiny church, even though it's not architecturally spiffy.

I like the windows, though, and the focus on the altar. I assume that the sacrament will be reserved in the panels behind the altar--which, if it is like SEAS, can be opened wide for adoration.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on January 13, 2007 10:41 AM.

Fine Art Friday was the previous entry in this blog.

whose death is it anyway? the cremation conundrum is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.