Sunday, February 10, 2008
Please Stop Before Wrecking the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Jospeh McCarthy was renowned for his American Style Catholic buildings very favored by Cardinal Mundelein such as at Mundelein Seminary. However, he did step into the derivative European Sytle in Springfield Illinois at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and he stepped decisively. This is his greatest work, in my opinion (to be copied by the The Lincoln Library by the way 70 years later).
I get asked all the time "how can we rennovate our Church". In most cases (Post WW2) , the whole thing needs torn down and rebuilt. In this Cathedral, the answer is "with a vacuum cleaner". This is as near perfect as an Illinois Cathedral gets. Vacuum, dust, sweep, but do not make any changes to the masterpiece as McCarthy designed.
So when I get one of those anonymous emails telling me
"They want to remove the old high altar entirely as well as the communion rails and add some sort of semi-circular steps to the sanctuary"
I think it is time to do one of two things.
1) Shout "STOP" at the top of the Capital Building before this interior is ruined (Seriously call Bishop Lucas and politely suggest he consider the Liturgical Intent of the original architect)
2) Start raising funds now so that 20 years from today we can put this Church back into order after it is wrecked.
It may be just the case that the Diocese of Springfield has too much money searching for a home right now. In which case, I can list 10 structurally damaged Churches in dire need of foundation work where the Springfield Diocese can park their money.
Bishop Lucas, please keep this Cathedral in tact. It is a beautiful, liturgically significant structure, sacred to Central Illinois and the Catholic Church. Please let it remain this way.
Photo Courtesy Mark Scott Alben, Rome of the West