Sunday, June 28, 2009

Papal Blessing in Melrose Park

The Tribune does a reasonable job (please ignore the blasphemy) covering the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Melrose Park, Illinois, and a Papal Blessing bestowed upon Crowns made for Our Lady.

High Masses, Coronations, Processions and the continuation of a 800 year devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

From the Chicago Tribune


When parishioners of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Shrine in Melrose Park decided to create gold crowns for statues of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, they donated to the cause by reaching deep into their hearts and memories.

Joe Rosa gave his grandfather's wedding band. Corinne Principe wept as she slipped her own wedding ring off her finger. Antonio Godinez removed the big Jesus medallion he wore close to his heart and plopped it into a collection basket.

In all, 15 pounds of gold was given, including a dozen gold watches, several rings, bangle bracelets, earrings, chains and medals. Carrying out a religious tradition from Southern Italy, the donated gold was then melted down and molded into two new 14-karat gold crowns appraised at $75,000.

The call for jewelry went out last July during the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and brought donations not only from the parish but from Italian Catholics across the nation. Struck by the devotion, the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rev. Claudio Holzer, e-mailed the Vatican to request a papal blessing for the crowns.

Few expected a response. But within a week, a Vatican aide approved and asked that the crowns be brought to Rome. Last month, Holzer and 35 parishioners traveled to Italy for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI where he blessed the crowns."This is very emotional for all of us," said Principe, who has been married for 41 years. "I didn't think twice about giving my wedding ring. I wanted a piece of me to be with her always, so she could pray for me and my family."

On Sunday, the Melrose Park church will hold a historic mass as it crowns the 5-foot statue of "La Madonna del Carmine" and the baby Jesus that she holds in her left palm. After a procession that takes the Madonna statue through the streets, three Chicago archdiocesan bishops will celebrate a pontifical high mass, which will be broadcast live on EWTN, the global Catholic network.

Only three other images of the Virgin Mary have been crowned with Pontifical Authority: Our of Lady of Mt. Carmel in New York City's East Harlem; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Orleans; and the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Madonna De La Flora

As opposed to my own shaky photography, Mark Scott Abeln just keeps getting better at photo documentary of Church objects, icons, and architecture. Here Mark chronicles a Corpus Christ Procession in St. Louis, including this stunning shot of an Marian homage.

Take a look over there at Rome of the West, the visuals are brilliant.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

DMac on St. Michael's, Leawood

From CMR

The new Church of Saint Micheal the Archangelin Leawood, Kansas will be dedicated on Saturday June 13, and many of its features have been chronicled here on CMR. The church is clearly part of the "New Classicism"movement which has been growing over the last 20 years or so, mostly in secular buildings. But one of the things that sets the new St. Michael church apart from other new churches is its decidedly eschatological orientation, that is, its look toward the end of time when the application of Christ's victory is complete. This notion of "turning toward" the Lord's Second Coming has traditionally been the justification for the eastward orientation of churches and the ad orientem position of the celebrant, and the source for what that Second Coming might look like has always been the Book of Revelation.
At the new St. Michael Church, the rear wall of the sanctuary is filled with a triumphal-arch like reredos in which will be placed three paintings, all by EverGreene Studios of New York (shown here in the studio in process and below before installation in two pieces--click for larger views).
The central piece is a 24 foot tall great image of Christ reigning on the throne surrounded by angels and saints described in Revelation chapter 4 and the river of the water of life flowing from the throne in chapter 22. The great eye of the Father who sees and knows all is shown sharing an intersecting halo with Christ who reigns in glory despite his wounds. The night sky reveals the heavens filled with glorified stars, praising God by obeying His will.
From below the throne flows the water symbolizing the Holy Spirit, the water of life (grace) which transforms the world. The water flows down inside the golden walls of the Heavenly Jerusalem, then upon the earth to transform it with grace. In the Leawood mural, the waters flow straight down behind St. Michael, the patron of the parish, than across the many saints, around the altar of reservation, to the sanctuary below. St. Michael is shown in the time after he has slayed the dragon, and he holds in his hands a scale representing the judgment of souls. (The saved soul "weighs" more than the damned). The parish chose the blesseds and saints for the mural, emphasizing the saints of the Americas and the 20th century like the Jesuit martyrs, KiriTekakwitha, Mother Cabrini, Mother Seton, Kathrine Drexel and Miguel Pro.
Interesting to note is two intersections of the heavenly world with the earthly. The "streets" of heaven in the mural have the same pattern of marbles as does the actual floor of the church, symbolizing that the earthly church building is indeed a sacrament of heaven. Second, a close look at the mural shows that among the buildings of heaven is a glorified version of Kansas City's Power and Light Building, a landmark of the downtown skyline. This building was added to remind worshippers that the end of time will not sweep us away to some Platonic other world on clouds, but will restore and renew the real, physical world.
In the small roundrels to either side of the central panel will be placed images of Old Testament figures: Elijah and Moses on the right and Abraham and Sarah on the left. Though they appear in separate openings, all three of the paintings share the same background, suggesting that the triumphal arch is not so much fixed to the wall as it is an opening to the heavenly realm.
Notice how different this sort of iconography is from the usual arrangement of "Mary on one side, Joseph on the other, and a crucifix in the middle." Here we see the Trinity, angels, saints, and creation being joined by the earthly worshippers to praise God and receive Christ-life in the sacraments. By looking at the heavenly glory as well as receiving the heavenly food, the process of divinization is emphasized as a full liturgical event.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Major New Release on Church Architecture

The Society of St. Barbara is delighted to announce the release of Catholic Church Architecture and the Sprit of the Liturgy, authored by our own contributor Prof. Denis McNamara.

Here Denis encourages "the reader to drink deeply from the wells of the tradition, to look with fresh eyes at things thought to be outdated or meaningless, and glean the principles which underlie the richness of the Catholic faith"

Distribution is expected in October of 2009. Pre-order is available now from Liturgy Training Press.Congratulations Denis McNamara on another outstanding work.