Saturday, February 25, 2006

Restoration 2-Welcome to Chicago, Illinois

Cardinal Henry Stuart-Duke of York (a job now held by Prince Andrew), died in 1807 , some 15 years after the failed Irish Revolution of 1792 and 25 years after the successful American Revolution (no word on the Henry Stuarts feelings on the rebellions). Via the failed Irish Revolutions, punitive laws prohibitting Catholic Landowning in Ireland, millions of Irish take to the new countries of the United States and Australia (among many others), some ending up on Adams and Halsted in Chicago, at the then new Old St. Patricks in 1846.

As Ireland's own Catholic Churches had been disassembled or destroyed by the occupying British Armies, architects, such as Augustus Bauer and Asher Carter of St. Patricks, drew on the Roman Architectural tradition to develop Chicago's Irish parishes. Holy Family on Roosevelt and May was designed in the same period with even greater grandeur and European heritage. Central and Western Illinois were (and still are) populated with numerous St. Patrick's as champion of the Irish immigrants seeking wages, land ownership, and additional religious freedoms.

The buildings themselves had very little Irish heritage to draw upon, leaving the church designs to flow from the general Roman Catholic church building tradition. The Restoration of the Church began in earnest as an inspired vision to connect to the broad sweep of Catholicism.

How the Restoration Started (Part 1)

Pictured above is Henry IX, Cardinal Duke of York, great-grandson of Charles I, and the one-time owner of the English Crown Jewels. While Charles II, Henry's great-uncle, was restored to the crown of England, after the Cromewellian revolution, Henry was never crowned King of England. Englands loss though, was a great gain for the Roman Catholic Church, with Henry IX leaving a great legacy of building in Italy highighting the finest in Art and Architecture, brining generations of English Speaking Catholics into communion with Rome.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Whiting Indiana, Whiting Indiana, Whiting Indiana

Pardon the Music Man, but driving back from Notre Dame this morning, the industrial landscape is widely regarded as bleak and doomed, thus all the better for the beacon of Heaven's incarnation on Earth to show as brilliantly as St. John the Baptist in Whiting Indiana. Big, brawny, Polish, and a Herman Gaul masterpiece, I stopped for a tour and visit. Sparkling interior, typical of the best Polish Churches, and as well built as her sisters in Chicago, St. John the Baptist, and the beautiful Parish School next door, find a dramatic context in Northwest Indiana.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If USML played at Notre Dame it might go something like this

Denis McNamara, noted author and a member of the Society of St. Barbara will be lecturing on his book, Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago on Wednesday February 22 at 6:30 PM, Room 114, Bond Hall. All are welcome.

Fittingly enough, while I was at the Chicago Architecture Foundation Bookstore today, the sales manager noted that customers are requesting autographed copies of Heavenly City, and are sorting through the store's inventory to find the hidden gem (as McNamara tends to sign books upon his visits to retail stores).

McNamara assures the Society, he will be available for autographs after the Bond Hall lecture.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Festival Discovery

While at the Catholic Festival of Faith in Rosemont, I had a chance conversation with Sister M. John Vianney, SSCM, who is researching the immigrant foundation of Chicago's Churches, a subject integral to the Bricks and Mortar Foundation. Sr. M John explained that far from the illiterate rubes often potrayed in mainstream history, our immigrant forebearers had a sophisticated knowledge of Church building and finance, starting multinational banks and insurance companies with the implicit backing of the Parish.

One of the least publicized pioneers, Fr. Josef Murga, a Slovakian effectively developed a radio transmit and receive system years before Marconi and Tesla, known as the Murgas System of Wireless Telegraphy. Fr. Murga sent his prayer "Thank God for His blessings" from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton Pennsylvania in 1905, making him the earliest radio operator to send and receive a long distance signal.

Sr. Vianney has a wealth of information regarding our Immigrant pioneers. I look forward to her upcoming publications.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bring More Rosaries: Pre-Lent Catholic Festival in Chicago

OK, it might not be as lively as Mardi Gras, but there are many reasons to celebrate the Catholic Festival of Faith at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL (near Chicago's O'Hare Airport) February 16-18., 2006

Let's enjoy

1) One of the top Homilists in the Archdiocese, Fr. Robert Barron spreads the Good Word with the beginning of his Evangelization Mission at the fest.

2) Dinner and more evangelizing with Cardinal Francis George

3) The glue which holds the Church together: Multiple lectures on Parish Finance and Fundraising with the Archdiosocean Financial team.

and of course, do not miss Denis McNamara signing copies of "Heavenly City" at the Liturgy Training Press booth.

Action, Adventure, and Evangelization. Welcome to Rosemont!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Baron of Lake Michigan or What to do in Milwaukee


Denis McNamara has convinced me to make a pilgrimage to Milwaukee to see the Vatican Exhibit. Milwaukee, nicknamed the Baron of Lake Michigan celebrates a great German Heritage with fine architecture, restaurants and a cheerful
community. When travelling to Milwaukee how about:

1) Stop at the Basilica of St. Josaphat. Constructed from the stone remains of the Old Chicago Post Office, this is one of the most grand churches ever assembled. Sparkling, majestic, devotional, this is the temple of Milwaukee Catholicism. The Franciscans may take a bow.

2) Brunch at Cafe Sopra Mare at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave. This David Adler designed Renaissance Villa on Lake Michigan commands attention to design and presentation of the urban community. If you are there in the evening, stay for a lecture on Garden Tips

3) Have a glass of what made Milwaukee famous at the Pabst Mansion, the former home of the Archbishop of Milwaukee and (the founder of PBR). The gift shop in the Mansion is the extinct chapel of the Archdiocese.

4) Stop in St. Francis, the first city south of Milwaukee, to see the Seminary and an entire town names for a great Saint.

I will enjoy my visit to the Baron of the Midwest and I hope you enjoy your's as well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Saint Peter and the Vatican

The Milwaukee Public Museum's new exhibit on Saint Peter and the Vatican opened recently with some fanfare. It's an exhibit tracing the role of the papacy in the Church, starting with Saint Peter and continuing through to Benedict XVI. The advertising to promote the exhibit uses a lot of phrases like "once in a lifetime" opportunity which seems a bit exaggerated. It is definitely *not* a tour of the Vatican's greatest treasures, but instead is more like a historical society exhibit. Don't expect to find Michelangelo's Pieta anywhere, but you will find a good deal about Peter himself and his tomb under Saint Peter's Basilica, lots of papal memorabilia like silk slippers, a chalice with 1000 diamonds on it, numerous papal tiaras, letters to popes from mission lands, and the machine that makes the white smoke during a conclave. In general, the level of understanding of Catholic thology in the exhibit is higher than one ususally sees at these things, though the film in the first room describes the papacy as a marker of the passage of history "from Peter to Constantine to Napoleon." A child behind me asked his mother who the second pope was and she answered"Constantine." Let's hope the film hasn't convinced people of the existence of Pope Napoleon I. The film also claimed that St. Peter's Basilica "inspires feeling of spirituality," which is different from the presence of God and the life of grace, but it will do. The exhibit ends with a film of Pope John Paul II in his last days, and visitors are invited to touch a bronze mold made of John Paul's clearly arthritic hand before they leave.
All in all, the exhibit is worth a visit. The $18.50 ticket price is pretty reasonable, and anyone interested in the papacy will enjoy it immensely. It's also a good way for families to learn and discuss the origins and meaning of the Faith.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Rose of Peoria

The Peoria Journal Star has a fine slide show on the Cathedral in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria Illinois. The CDOP has renewed its devotion to Mary officially naming the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. CDOP is led by Bishop Daniel Jenky, a Notre Dame Trustee, and advocate of church restoration and preservation. I have had the pleasure of knowing Vicar General Msgr Paul Schowalter of Peoria for over 30 years now, from his service in Wapella, IL at St. Patricks and at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, IL.

Peoria is also know as the home Diocese of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who is a candidate for sainthood. His Chair is shown here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento

While my entire personal exposure to the city of Sacramento is restricted to a quick glance out the side-window of my family's car back during the nebulous days of childhood vacations, I am nonetheless most impressed by the incredible $34 million renovation completed recently in November of 2005 at the cathedral downtown. The restorers left Sacramento Cathedral far better than they found it, a true sign of hope for the future of ecclesiastical architecture.

Dedicated in 1889, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is a fascinating monument to the flamboyant eclecticism of Gilded Age America, here applied to a more worthy cause than the townhouses of railroad tycoons or the summer estates of the idle rich. I'm unsure what happened between then and now, but more recent photographs of the pre-restoration church show an interior of faded glory, with jaundiced salmon-pink walls, an unruly hodgepodge of architectural styles passing beyond even the church's deliberate eclecticism, and an unremarkable '60s-style altar island.

With the assistance of painters from EverGreene Studios in New York, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Harbison, Mahoney and Higgins Construction liberally coated the interior with 250 splendid new works of art in perfect harmony with the building's classical roots. The amount of original traditional artwork created for the project is, to my knowledge, unrivalled by any other ecclesial projects currently under construction, and includes everything from beautiful stencil-work to full-size canvases of apostles, saints and martyrs. Most ambitiously, the church restoration also included the replacement of the low false dome, dating from the 1930s, with a larger interior shell with a twenty-four foot oculus and an elaborate iconographic program.

The altar was replaced with a large marble structure containing relics of one of the martyrs of the Mexican Cristero rebellion. The sanctuary of the church and the accompanying Eucharistic chapel is worth noting, as it is of somewhat novel--though not necessarily unsuccessful--design. The altar stands beneath the crossing in the untraditional "thrust sanctuary" form sometimes favored by certain modern liturgists. However, the large hanging crown or tester canopy with thirteen-foot-high crucifix standing over the crossing serves to give the freestanding altar the prominance it properly deserves. More intriguing is the placement of a screened Eucharistic chapel in the apse beyond the altar. The open arches allow some measure of privacy while allowing the six-ton, twenty-foot-high tabernacle canopy to serve as a visual focus for those seated in the main body of the church, and also to relate to the altar and sanctuary with a certain degree of appropriate hierarchy.

While not an appropriate arrangement for a parish church--despite some contemporary authors' suggestions to the contrary--a separate Eucharistic chapel may be considered more suitable for cathedrals. This is based on a number of rubrics from the old Tridentine rite that suppose this arrangement, or at least require that the Sacrament be reserved away from the high altar during pontifical fuctions. One must note, however, that the great St. Charles Borromeo placed his tabernacle above the high altar at Milan Cathedral, so these regulations are hardly universal.

In America, where most cathedrals were essentially designed to serve as oversized parish churches, without the accompanying ceremonial of the cathedral chapters of canons so common in Europe, this custom never caught on, and due to the current controversies over tabernacle placement in parish church, prudence suggests that the implementation of this fairly well-established tradition might be reserved for a more felicitous time when it might not further endanger the belief in the Real Presence.

This rather novel arrangement, however, permits some of the separation considered important by some older authorities in a cathedral church without denying the view of the home of the Sacrament to the larger body of the faithful. Only two problems present themselves--one, the odd antiphonal seating in the chapel, which might make Eucharistic adoration difficult, and two, the potential distraction of laity moving about behind the altar in a space on the same level as it, and, to some degree, serving as an extension of the sanctuary. (It would make a fine space for a chapter of canons to sit, though!)

I am unsure whether I would recommend the adoption of this practice in other cathedrals, though I am glad the experiment was tried, as it is at least a gesture towards tradition. It is more preferrable, I believe, to the arrangement at the otherwise quite unobtrusive renovation at Salt Lake City which places the tabernacle on axis with the altar but obscures it with a virtually opaque screen.

However, certainly we must extend our congratulations to the diocese for this wondrous re-fitting of an old, if somewhat tarnished, gem. May it be a light to other dioceses and their faithful at the beginning of this century, in the hopes of helping to further another renaissance of ecclesial design.

For more information and photographs of the project, see the PDF slideshow, and the Cathedral website.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vatican moving to Milwaukee

For a month, the Vatican will display its art in the charming Wisconin City of Milwaukee.

See one of the largest collections of Vatican art and historic objects, tracing 2,000 years of church leadership, in "St. Peter and the Vatican: Legacy of the Popes" at the Milwaukee Public Museum Feb. 4-May 7, 2006. What could be better:

1) Milwaukee, one the great Midwest Cities
2) Art from one of the worlds foremost collections
3) The beautiful venue of the Milwaukee Public Museum

Applause all around to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation for championing this exhibit.

Three Cheers for Allan Greenberg!

Traditional architects and archtecture afficiandos may continue rejoicing! Allan Greenberg has been named the recipient of the 2006 Richard Driehaus Prize, presented by the Universtiy of Notre Dame. Mr Greenberg is the first American to receive the prestigious prize.