Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Trials Of St. Boniface

rose window
Originally uploaded by primeau

The Tribune highlights some of the recent distress at St. Boniface on the near northwest side.

I have been attempting to keep St. Boniface standing for 7 years now, with some major ups and downs. I'll offer 5 tonics to the Tribune story gin.

1) The $25 Million number is absurd. I could rebuild 2 of the new Shrine in LaCrosse Wiscsonsin for that price, and have quite a bit of money to spare. It does not do much to instill confidence when a spokesman conjures up ridiculous numbers to overstate the case.

2) On the other hand, there are quite a few people at high levels in the Archdiocese who want to see this structure put to good use. If the right team is put together, I am sure the structure will stand, preferrably as a Church.

3) Making condos out of the Church was a terrible idea. Dealing with some highly questionable real estate speculators on a sacred structure is no business for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

4) The Church itself is awesome. Here are some previous posts on the Church.

5) The structure could be cleaned, secured, and sealed for a $100,000 or so. In this current real estate cycle, holding the Church in a reasonable condition should be considered.
I'll quote myself

"The heathens fell upon them and murdered Boniface and fifty-two companions (according to some, thirty-seven)": I suppose when you are being attacked by heathens, 15 companions can make a real difference. At St. Boniface in Chicago, we could use at least 52 companions in getting Henry J. Schlacks faded masterpiece back into shape.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

William Heyer, Architect, The Classical Architecture Studio

Bill Heyer, one of the top traditional architects practicing today, has livened up his website, with plenty of images of his work and proposals. Heyer, probably best known in Chicago for his work at the Institute of Christ the King, hails from Columbus Ohio, with a Notre Dame degree and a practice in Sacred, Educational, and Residential architecture.

Here are two images of William Heyer's work on the classic (Old Main?) Building at the Josephenium Pontifical College in Columbus Ohio.

Here's Bill Heyer, Architect

Barat Woods Development in Foreclosure

No surprise here, but the developer who simonized the Chapel at Barat College is in foreclosure proceedings for defaulting on a $16 Million Loan payment. The Chapel, of course was destroyed first before the developer went broke. Priorities!

"After closing in 2005, Barat College in Lake Forest was supposed to be transformed into a $125 million development featuring a variety of homes, preserved historic structures and a service attendant for residents.

Instead, the land on Lake Forest's posh east side is just another U.S. foreclosure statistic.

On Monday, there were no-trespassing signs and fencing around the property at Westleigh and Sheridan roads, where the private school opened in 1904. Harris Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Robert G. Shaw and his Barat Woods LLC development team Oct. 16. Barat Woods is accused of not repaying a $16 million loan before the Dec. 31, 2007, termination date.

Attorney Jeffrey Close, who represents Harris, said the bank was forced to foreclose on the land because of court action two contractors are pursuing against Barat Woods in federal court."

Link on title to Daily Herald story.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saint Michael the Archangel in Leawood, Kansas

Denis McNamara has a informative piece (lifted here from the Creative Minority Report) on St. Michael's Parish in Leawood Kansas.

St. Michaels’ new church partakes of a “high” theology of ecclesiastical architecture, meaning that the building is understood as a "sacrament."

In the broad sense of the word, a sacrament is a sign which makes an otherwise unknowable spiritual reality knowable, active and present, to the senses. The Eucharist, of course, is our supreme sacrament, but a church building is a sacramental image of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the biblical term for heaven itself. So the church building is more than simply a luxurious meeting hall, but in its very art and architecture, allows worshippers to participate in the “signs and symbols of heavenly realities” as the Second Vatican Council requested in its document on the sacred liturgy called Sacrosanctum Concilium.

While the world still shows evidence of the Fall, when humanity and the rest of creation fell into disorder and chaos, the church building shows us what our heavenly future might “look like”: radiant, ordered, centered on the worship of God in Christ, restored, renewed, and populated with the harmonious interaction of angels and saints.

In theological terminology, this looking forward to the realities of heaven is called “anticipated eschatology,” the participation now in the things of the eschaton, or end times, when God has fully restored his creation through the sharing His own Divine Life. The church building is therefore oriented toward the east, the direction from which Christ will return at the end of time (Acts 1:10). As the congregation assembles, it takes an eschatological orientation; in its very arrangement, it looks to the return of Christ, signaling the completion of his mission of restoration.

In the world outside, people interact with discord and slander; in the church they speak in one voice, praising God in liturgical texts and songs. Outside, the world is filled with the smell of stench and decay; the church gives us the scent of a renewed creation in its flowers and the sweetness of rising prayer in its fragrant incense.

The dullness of concrete and asphalt gives way in the church to marble, bronze, silk and gold. The chaotic tone and secular content of movies and television are replaced in church by images of Christ, the saints, angels—with whom we all worship as a sacramental image of the Mystical Body of Christ. For this reason, the small, high windows of the new church design allow light to flood in, but prevent looking out to the fallen world. Instead, they allow the faithful to enter a sacramental image of the new heaven and earth, participating now by way of foretaste in the realities of heaven.

More Images Here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

St. Thomas the Apostle

Here's quite a bit on Barry Byrne's Masterpiece, St. Thomas the Apostle in Hyde Park. Prairie (sort of) Spanish Mission (sort of) Barry Byrne (definitely). Here's a shot from James Morris and a link to St. TtA website.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

London Foreign and Commonwealth Office

London Open House 9/21/08. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Perhaps the most beautiful government building in the world.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

CNW on Fr. Simon

Could it be? A pleasant story about the Clergy in Chicago...well it is and Dolores Madlener has it here at the Catholic New World. Fr. Simon, from St. Lambert's in Skokie, is one of the bright lights of the Catholic Renaissance in Chicago. Formerly at St. Thomas of Canterbury in Chicago (our sharing parish from St. Francis Xavier in Wilmette).

Speaking of the New World, it has become a good newspaper over the short term of Joyce Duriga. Way to go Joyce!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The La Crosse Guadalupe Shrine and What it Means

Cross Posted from Creative Minority Report, by Dennis McNamara

I've noticed a few blogs have posted some of the beautiful photos from the LaCrosse Tribune's coverage of the new Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe dedicated recently by Archbishop Burke. Most of the comments about the building are quite positive, as they should be. The faithful have an innate desire for Beauty with its completeness, order and clarity, and architecture like this comes as a long cool drink in the desert of liturgical beauty in the last few decades.

But this building is much more than a pretty haven for people who like old things. This is a direct attack on the tyranny of the Zeitgeist theory of cultural evolution, and proves that the Modernist stranglehold on architectural thinking is no longer only sick, but, in fact, dead. The Zeitgeist (the "spirit of the age") was the favorite bludgeoning stick of Modernist architects, who claimed that architecture must be "of its age" in order to be valid. And the "age," they said, was defined by industry, engineering and mass production. Houses were "machines for living in." Churches were banished. Leading Modernist architect Le Corbusier wrote that civilizations advance when they "pass through the age of the solider and the priest and achieve what is rightly called culture."

See the real issue here in Modernist architecture? It's not really about architecture. It's about a competing theory of the world where culture is understood as secular, atheistic, rationalist and mechanistic. "Old" architecture supposedly represented a time when society was sacred, Godly, spiritual, and humanistic. To do the "old" in architecture was to claim the validity of the "old" culture with all of its spiritual and philosophical presuppositions. To build anything other than the "engineer's aesthetic" was to thwart the development of secular culture, or as the Modernists argued, the development of culture itself. This is why traditional architecture makes Modernist architects livid.

Sure, there are still architects out there devolving into greater and greater chaos and anarchy with "blob" architecture (really) and the hopelessness of Deconstruction, beating the dead horse of the Zeitgeist. Modernists still run the museums, the big architectural firms, the architectural journals and many avenues of power in Catholic chanceries. But they are growing weaker and weaker. The modernist cathedrals of recent years will no doubt be looked upon by future historians as the strange last gasp of "Modern" architecture in a period which has already been "postmodern" for nearly 40 years. How ironic that even if one accepts the premises of the Zeitgeist, the age has become "postmodern" and the architects are still "modern"!

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe proves that the Zeitgeist argument is a fallacy. We built it in our time, so it is of our time. Period. The bizarre and wrong-headed theories of secular radicals have been debunked. God still reigns on his throne, angels and saints still sing his praises in heaven, the Spirit still inspires new saints, and humans still adore their Lord and receive divine life by eating his Flesh and drinking his Blood. The Truth of the Faith always outlives the truth of all human inner-worldly theories. Truth and Beauty are like a beach ball in the ocean; you can push it under water for a while, but it will always resurface beacuse it is in its nature to do so. Try as we might to deny God, Beauty, Truth and Goodness keep coming back, calling us to rediscover them afresh in our own time.

Is the Guadalupe Shrine a perfect artistic achievement? No. There are certainly small things that critics can point out to urge improvement in the future. But is the Guadalupe Shrine a momentous achievement? Yes, and yes indeed. Quite simply, it is the first large-scale church since Vatican II which articulately and fully proclaims itself to be a church rooted in the deep tradition, from the beautiful details in the custom-designed pews which are so vastly superior to the usual stock of catalogue-ordered type, to the sacristy which is understood as a chapel with beautiful finishes and design rather than a large closet as in most new churches. The altar reads as altar, table and tomb, proclaiming the theological richness of this object which sacramentally "is" Christ. The baldachino is a virtuoso piece of design and a stunning work of craftsmanship, bringing together the bishop, architect, historian, theologian, donor and the craftsman to their liturgical end. The flooring proclaims that it sacramentally represents the streets of the heavenly city. The saints in the side chapels prove to us that the Church goes on proclaiming the virtuous deeds inspired by the Holy Spirit in our own day and on our own American soil. The interior is flooded with light even as there are no eye-level windows giving views to the outside world, and for good reason. The interior of a church is not simply a human gathering hall, but a sacramental image of the world redeemed and glorified, where heaven, earth, God, saints, angels and humans coexist in harmony once again-- all while illuminated by the light of Christ.

This building is not about the Zeitgeist at work in our world, some anonymous spirit of an "age" which has no real identity. It is evidence of the Heilige Geist (Holy Spirit) at work in our world today as always, the Spirit of love which binds the Father who created us and the Son who redeemed us. This is the true Spirit of our age as it is of every age, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Uptown Sold to Jam Productions

Uptown Theater Main Lobby
Originally uploaded by primeau
There may be hope yet to re-open one of the greatest public spaces in Chicago Architecture. Jam Productions.

The pricetag was only $5 Million, which would get you a good sized house in Winnetka, (or about 1/2 of any of the last 20 botched restoration projects pursued in the Archdiocese), but there is at least $10 Million in restoration to be done (in my estimate, but I am sure the owners will ask for more).

Like most of these projects, these things are never 100% perfect, but it is great to see that this grand facility may be put back into use.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Did Barat Condo Conversion Fail?

I received a call from a real estate agent (a Barat Grad) Saturday concerning the continuing tragedy of Barat Chapel in Lake Forest, Illinois. Apparently the condo conversion has gone bust, perhaps proving the market for sacreligious destruction of Holy Sites is not what it used to be.

But not before the Stained Glass and much of the liturgical goods had been removed from the chapel. It seems as though the developer had put such a priority on destruction of the chapel that he was not able to prioritize his spending on actual construction and sale of residential units.

I will follow up Monday with a few calls, and post something more than my brief conversation.

Here's a pleasant video tour of Barat

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Marian Devotion, High Altars, and 19th Century Kenosha Episcopalianism

One of the most pleasant sites in all of the Midwest is the Kemper Hall, a convent and girls boarding school on the Kenosha, Wisconsin Lakefront. Run for over 100 years by the Sisters of St. Mary, a small order of Episcopalian nuns, the former Durkee Mansion and school complex is in remarkably good condition to this day, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers and donors, as well as the management of the local Episcopalians in keeping this site as a much used public facility.

The chapel interior is more Catholic in style than most Roman Catholic facilities, with a massive wooden high altar, Marian imagery, stations of the cross, and magnificent-if not always consistent-stained glass.

The chapel is pretty much open to the public. There is a kind staff in the adjoining Durkee Mansion more than willing to show you around the grounds, as well as leave you alone for contemplation and devotion.

This is a grand place, right on Lake Michigan, available for weddings and other sacraments, with catering in the adjoining (rather fine) halls.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Walking Around Oak Street in Evanston

While waiting for an appointment in Evanston last week, I took some snapshots of the Oak Street neighborhood looking pretty good in early summer.

I'll start with Holabird and Roche's Masonic Temple, which is supposed to be undergoing some type of adaptive re-use. It is very empty, and locked tight, needing a yard mowing. It is also very beautiful and looks to have some stained glass inside.

The Emmanuel United Methodist Church is a Red Brick Prairie (sort of) Church by Burnham and Root on the south end of my tour. The Brick is in remarkably good condition for a Church built in 1891. It sort of looks like the same brick as St. Gabriel's on the South Side.

Here's the Rectory at St. Mary's Roman Catholic, an arts and crafts beauty, in need of some HVAC work and a coat of paint.

This Queen Anne is the Catholic Woman's Club of Evanston. I think it is closed, or maybe not, but it is a standout bit of Architecture.

Here is Botti Studio, the premier stained glass restoration facility in the United States, aptly managed by Chris Botti, under a Papal Warrant from the 15th Century. Chris recently finished work on the Chicago Cultural Center Tiffany Dome.

The Merrick Rose Garden is a large urban garden giving a shot of floral beauty to this pleasant neighborhood. It is larger than I expected, occupying about 4 lots.

Here is the Entrance to the Margarita Club, a Catholic Woman's residence of 1927 Vintage. It is in remarkably good condition, and is in use as a bed and breakfast, with Va Pensiero restaurant inside (a good one the last time we went). Perhaps my favorite building in Evanston.

Sun-Times Notes Locked Doors on Churches

Repeating a theme from the Society of St. Barbara, the Chicago Sun Times notes that many Churches in Chicago near downtown have locked doors, and a few have open doors. The story is mostly individual reflections on open or locked churches.

The Sun-Times decided to only list Roman Catholic Churches that are locked, while I have noticed that locking churches is an ecumenical practice. Only Fourth Presbyterian has been generally open in my many years of Chicago Church Touring, though the United Methodist Temple is mainly accessible as well, through a security guard.

The included photo is of St. Michael's Church in Old Town.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Archbishop Burke to Rome

His Grace, Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been appointed to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and has also named His Grace to the Congregation for the Clergy. His presence on both bodies will benefit the Church due to his canonical expertise, steadfastness and pastoral care.

Archbishop Burke (pictured here with Fr. Leinhart and another Abbot from the Institute of Christ the King whose name I should remember, as well as Bishop Braxton of Belleville (I think) and another Bishop I do not recognize) is the leader of Traditional Liturgy in the Catholic Church in the United States.

He has been a driving force in the building of the Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, as well as the convent for the Nashville Dominicans.

The Society of St. Barbara sends it congratulations to His Grace on his appointment and wishes him continued success in his calling to Rome.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Unanimous: 1200 More Condo's Available in Wilmette

In near complete disregard to the residents, tenants, and taxpayers of Wilmette, the Wilmette Village Trustees unanimously appproved a new zoning district for the 4th and Linden neighborhood, allowing 1200 new condo units to begin construction.

Despite lack of parking, saturated roads, and the vocal disapproval of an overwhelming majority of the incumbent residents and businessmen in the neighborhood, the Wilmette Trustees decided that a dogmatic adherence to "green living" is worth the consequences of greater traffic, longer commutes and congestion.

Neighbors have begun a petition drive to stop the upzoning. Without any apparent irony, the trustees thanked the high level of participation of residents of the area, which the Trustees ignored.

Criminal Complaint Against Rafael Follieri

This mornings Wall Street Journal brings unfortunate news concerning a criminal complaint against Rafael Follieri, of the Follieri Group, an investment company with a seemingly solid plan of providing cash flows vs. Church Properties.

The Follieri Group had done work in Chicago, and in my only (brief) interactions with them, presented a plausible business plan for property development and provision of funds to the Archdiocese.

Follieri, pictured here with Anne Hathaway, has led a bit more high profile lifestyle than most of the people in Church development (though that is certainly no offense...Church property is a messy business, and I hope that no crimes nor simony was committed)

Please pray via St. Barbara for Mr. Follieri and for the protection of the Church itself.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fr. Barron Named Chair of Theology at Mundelein, Begins Filming Historic Series

Fr. Robert Barron, the Evangelical Catholic Preacher, has been named The Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary.

Fr. Barron also has begun filming for his new documentary on Catholicism, to be filmed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Fr. Barron plans a series of 10 DVD's to be filmed at in High Definition at 10 of the most notable and sacred sites in Christianity, including Hagia Sofia in Istanbul and the Basilica of St. Peter's in Vatican City.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Even More on The Monstrance

Unveiling the Icon

On May 31, 2008, the Iconic Monstrance of Our Lady of The Sign, The Ark of Mercy will be unveiled to a worldwide audience on EWTN. Directly following this historic event, the Mercy Festival will begin after the 5 pm Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: a week of 24 hr adoration in the main Church beginning on May 31st and ending on June 8th at 3pm.

The Iconic Monstrance is a true work of the Holy Spirit in union with Our Lady, and it has taken nine years to be born from prayer and faithful sacrifice as documented in the spiritual diary of Fr. Anthony Bus, A Mother's Plea. Nine years, the Blessed Mother, in union with the Trinity has prepared for the beginning of the spiritual mission of the Iconic Monstrance. What signal graces is she preparing for all those who will come to adore her Son, now that the Monstrance is here?

Will you come and adore her Son during this week long Festival of Mercy?

Our Lady is asking you to come and adore her Son, can you come and spend one hour with Jesus?

The Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy needs 300 people to fill all the available slots for the 2008 Mercy Festival.

People are coming from all over the world to be part of this historic event, to marvel at the work of the Holy Spirit.

Do not stand on the sidelines, enter the drama, and register today for an open adoration slot during the Festival of Mercy.

For more information please visit:

Or click here to register for an adoration slot:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Unveiling Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka

Please plan to join the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Chicago for the special Unveiling & Blessing of the Ark of Mercy Iconic Monstrance on the Feast of The Visitation, May 31st. This Special Mass will be celebrated by Francis Cardinal George at 5pm CT followed by the world-wide unveiling and all night adoration. Preregister at (312)458-9152. Doors open 4pm, 1351 Nobel St., Chgo.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New York's St. Brigid's Saved By Anonymous Donation

NY Church Saved by Anonymous $20 Million Donation

From Catholic Minority Report:

St. Brigid's in New York City was saved from the wrecking ball by an anonymous $20M donation, says The New York Daily News.

The historic church in the East Village, often called "The Famine Church" because it was built mainly by Irish immigrants who came to America during the potato famine, was saved from the wrecking ball today by a $20 million donation from someone being called an anonymous angel.

What a great story.

The huge - and unexpected - cash infusion will allow the nearly 160-year-old church to reopen once badly-needed repairs are finished.

"This magnificent gift will make it possible for St. Brigid's Church to be fittingly restored with its significant structural problems properly addressed," Edward Cardinal Egan said.

Egan did not reveal the identity of the donor, only that it was a "he" and that the "unexpected but very welcome gift" was given after a private meeting at the cardinal's residence.
This ends a big effort by many in the community to save the church which even went to court. About six months ago, an appellate court OK's the archdiocese's plans to destroy the Church. "We rejoice today in the miracle that has saved our church," said Ed Torres, chairman of the Committee to Save Saint Brigid's.

One neighborhood man tacked a poster to the scaffolding covering the church's yellow facade that read, "Thank You Lord for Answering our prayers."

"In this crazy world we live in, people say miracles don't exist," said another man. "I would like to prove somebody wrong."

According to the archdiocese, ten million will be spent on restoring the church. Another $8 million will go to support St. Brigid's school and $2 million will go toward an endowment for the parish "so that it might best meet the religious and spiritual needs of the people living in the community," the archdiocese said in a statement.

But here's the thing, one of the reasons the church was closing was because of falling attendance. I fear that these folks may have been more concerned with the church as a historical building then as a church.

Let's hope that this miraculous anonymous donation and the resulting restoration leads to a stronger attendance in the beautiful new pews.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Unveiling the Icon: Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy

From Denis McNamara

The Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Chicago has announced a special event at 5 pm on May 31st: the televised unveiling of the iconic monstrance which will be the centerpiece of the forthcoming Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, a very unique and beautiful place for prayer currently in its final planning stages. The unveiling will be televised in English, Spanish and Polish on EWTN, with yours truly serving together with Fr. Thomas Loya to provide "color commentary" for the event.
The Sanctuary is the special project and devotion of Fr. Anthony Bus, a Resurrectionist priest and pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, who, in a mystical experience, literally heard the Virgin Mary ask him to build a sanctuary dedicated to her Son. His inspiring story is chronicled in the hugely successful book, A Mother's Plea.
The iconic monstrance is shown here in one of its early stages. How it looks now is a carefully guarded secret, though I did get a sneak preview last week with its fullness of color and gold leaf, and it is truly stunning. The monstrance is actually a large, hard-carved wooden sculpture shown here in its architectural setting, (and in true Chicago fashion it has already been described as "the largest monstrance in the world.") It combines the two adoring angels and the golden Ark drawn from the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Solomon, but then shows it in its Christian fulfillment: the Virgin Mary now appears as the new Ark, and in her "womb" will be Christ as the New Law of Love and Mercy, the Blessed Sacrament for adoration.
The Jewish roots of Christianity are here recognized and admired, but shown in Christian fulfillment. The architectural setting will be one of the most sophisticated uses of the "New Classicism" movement, with every part thought through as a presentation of theological realities recalling the Old Testament time of shadow, the New Testament time of image, and the anticipating the glory of heaven. The unveiling will be followed by a week of 24-hour adoration at St. Stanislaus Church in the actual monstrance. Click here to sign up for slots for adoration.
The Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy is more than just another pious project. It is living proof that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Second Spring of the Church. At its heart is the worship of God and the sanctification of humanity through the Divine Mercy. Its art and architecture will blaze new trails in the recovery of Beauty. It recovers Catholicism's biblical origins in the old covenant and displays heavenly glory to us. It will, no doubt, become a spiritual "umbilical cord" of God's Mercy for the world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thanks Mr Driehaus: Nickerson Mansion Open to Public

Richard Driehaus, the Patron of Traditional Architecture has done it again. Thanks to Richard Driehaus the opulent sandstone Victorian Mansion will be open to the public on a limited basis starting in June.

After a 5 year restoration, the Mansion, located at the corner of Erie and Wabash, and adjacent to the John Murphy Auditorium is put back to its Gilded Age Splendor. Being familiar with other Driehaus projects, I project that it is actually in better condition than it was when originally built, and available for the public to enjoy.

Along with the Museum of Surgical Science and the Murphy Auditorium, the Nickerson Mansion is one of the great restorations in Chicago History, due to the dedication of Richard Driehaus and the Driehaus Foundation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Second Spring: Chicago's Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy

From Denis McNamara

CMR is happy to give its readers a preview of a remarkable shrine in Chicago, the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, now in its final planning stages. The Sanctuary grows from the vision of Fr. Anthony Bus, the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago, who tells the story of the sanctuary in his book A Mother's Plea. The project's architect, James McCrery of Washington, DC, a specialist in classical architecture, drew the sketches shown here (click the pictures for larger images).

The sanctuary is understood as a refuge in the heart of the city, with a large exterior garden surrounding a crucifix amidst a fountain of flowing water, symbolizing the grace flowing into the world through the sacraments of the Church.

The highlight of the project is the sanctuary proper, an interior chapel for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The entire complex grows from the primacy of the reserved Sacrament in the iconic monstrance, a large sculpted and gilded image of the Ark of the Covenant (the Ark containing the tablets of the Old Law) with an image of the Virgin (the new Ark) with the Blessed Sacrament located in her womb (the new Law) sitting atop it. Surrounded by pairs of columns of 12 different marbles which symbolize the Twelve Tribes of Israel being fulfilled in the 12 apostles, the chapel will be a place of absolute silence and prayer, a place to draw down God's mercy upon the world.

The architecture draws from the tradition of Roman courtyards (especially Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome) as well as Byzantine and early Christian precedents. In a very sophisticated use of imagery and the classical orders, references to the Old and New Testaments are woven throughout the complex.

The Second Spring has indeed arrived in Chicago in the evangelical mission of prayer which will occur at the Sanctuary, but also in the sophistication of its architecture, which reconnects with the great tradition in a way completely new and needed in our times. The Sanctuary team is actively looking for generous donors to help make this worthy project a reality. It is a noble cause, has trustworthy and dedicated people seeing it to completion, and a talented architect who will prove that the great tradition of sacramental architecture and theological symbolism is still alive and well.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Price Break on Heavenly City

Our distributor for Heavenly City is moving his inventory to a new warehouse soon, so we were able to pick up several copies of Heavenly City for a low price.

For a limited time only, you can get Heavenly City via Amazon for $29.95. Regular price is $59.95, so this is a bargain. If you order in the next day or two, we can pick up distribution copies (14 units +) as well.

Order Here

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Marian Apparition in Wilmette

One of the first Architectural Preservation projects I was ever involved in was at the Loyola Mallinckrodt Campus in Wilmette (the village where I now live). I may have been more naive 6 years ago, thinking that somehow a beautiful, liturgically significant structure could somehow be supported by the Church, but reality set in on this Herman Gaul structure (pictured here), and my eyes were opened quite wide to the nature of the property development "industry" (swindle?).

The Village of Wilmette purchased the property for approximately $25 Million with the intention of "preserving" the main building. I was assured (as were various preservation agencies) that the architectural integrity of the building would be upheld. Almost immediately, the Village set out to de-Christianize the structure, removing any religious adornment, crosses, stained glass etc in the manner of rather careful French Revolutionary.

I was foolish enough to speak up as to how the architectural integrity could be upheld if the decorative elements were removed, and was promptly asked to pay a ransom of $100K to rescue the stained glass from removal. I really liked the stained glass, but not for $100K. The Village and their connected developer eventually dropped all pretense towards preservation, tore out a beautiful set of trees (which really annoyed people in Wilmette), and removed a serene statue of Mary, some graceful Latin verbage (did it say Mary Immaculata?) above the main doorway and eventually uncrossed the Cross which topped the magnificent structure, leaving it as a spire.

My children and I went for a walk earlier this week in the adjoining park, observing the desecrated grottoes and spoiled marygardens that once graced the greenspace, when I was surprised to find that a Mary statuary had indeed returned to one of the grottoes. I had to photograph the grotto this morning, as I am sure the Jabobins will be out later today to remove any possible mention of the Christian tradition in Wilmette.

As my wife pointed out, there is also beautiful statue of St. Francis in a marygarden at the (also beautiful) Presbyterian Church in Deerfield. The statue is exactly where it should be, though, it would bewilder John Knox as to why there is an Italian carved in stone in his yard. But the devout know that there is a reason for these things, and human nature encourages appreciation, regardless of the best efforts of the worst elements of society to abolish what is beautiful about the Liturgy.