Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Many kinds of church architecture, Cathy

Cranky Cathy of the Recovering Dissident Catholic was in practice mode the other day when she reported on her reaction to the interior design of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis by modernists:

  • The Basilica of St. Mary is one of the most beautiful churches anywhere. I still don't "get" why the banner committee, or whoever is in charge of that stuff, feel the need to hang swooshy banners and an artsy cross over the transept. The building IS the only art we need overhead. The modern "tongues of flame"/"Holy Spirit" print on the ambo still gives me a migraine and so do the modern "Stations of the Cross" prints under the classic Stations of the Cross. Leave the building alone. It was built as a testimony to worshipping God. It doesn't need embellishment. It is absurd and ridiculous to even attempt embellishment in a setting that is already glorious to begin with. Our ancestors knew what they were doing. Respect their judgement.
The Basilica is indeed beautiful, designed by the same architect, Emmanuel Masqueray, who designed the Cathedral of St. Paul and the church of St. Louis, King of France, in downtown St. Paul.

There probably are probably technical names for the style of the Basilica, but I would just say that it is traditional, and yet quite simple and relatively unadorned except for beautiful stained glass windows and statuary.

But, as someone said, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The baroque/rococco style of architecture that swept through Europe in the 18th century has a totally different, and awe-inspiring beauty. I received a link to a photo of this church in Vienna this morning:

Click on this photograph of the Piaristenkirche in Vienna, Austria for a high resolution flash photograph of the church that will allow you to navigate a full 360 degrees to see all of the adornment of this most beautiful house of worship. The sad part of the story is that few Austrians go to church these days. If you don't have "flash" on your computer you will just see a larger version of this photo. Be sure to close the text window at the bottom of your screen.

Tip O' the Hat to "Beansie" in Mendota Heights!


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Yes there are many kinds of church architecture:
modernist claptrap
circular kumbaya

Luv, Cranky

Margaret said...

I was there over a year ago during lent and they had what looked like a bunch of dead branches and wires suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the church, with votive candles. It looked like it took quite a bit to accomplish and might have been passable in a modern church but in the Basilica it looked like a pile of junk hanging from the ceiling.

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