Skip to content

Posts from the ‘architecture’ Category

Developing a Canon and Schema of Liturgical Art for the Churches of the Roman Rite, Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles that explore how we might create something that as yet does not exist – a canon of sacred art for churches of the Roman Rite; and a set of principles that will guide us on how to arrange them in a coherent schema that is integrated with worship. I present this in five themes after today’s introduction:

  1. Scripture
  2. The texts of the liturgy and an examination of how the Byzantine liturgies relate their liturgical texts so as to inform the approach taken in the Roman Rite.
  3. Liturgical Action – how we can change the way we worship, in accordance with existing rubrics and Tradition so as to engage with visual imagery more directly.
  4. Catechesis – how we teach congregations to understand what they are seeing so that it they are able to engage with the art naturally during the course of their worship.
  5. Architecture – consideration of how the architecture ought to reflect

(If you wish to see the article in full, go here)

Introduction

Anyone who has ever read a book on Eastern icons will know that the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches have a well established way of arranging the icons in their church. Not only are there clear directions on who or what to paint and what style to paint it in, they also know exactly where they are supposed to put each piece of sacred art in their churches. Furthermore it is clearly understood how each image relates to every other, and how each person ought to engage with each piece of art in the course of the liturgy itself.

So for example when the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington DC put out a call for icon painters, a couple of years ago, they did so in accord with this tradition. In my understanding, the rules are not absolutely rigid; most Eastern Rite churches will conform to this while accomodating some aspects that are particular to the church community – the patron saint of the church for example.

What should we do in the Roman Rite? I know of no established schema with anything like canonical status. The Church’s guidelines, (for example, the GIRM, Canon Law and in the US a booklet produced by the bishops called Built in the Living Stone) offer suggestions as to the broadest principles for choice of art, but aside from asserting the centrality of the crucifixion and images of Our Lady and the saints we are offered by little specific regarding what images particularly are appropriate. I do not quarrel with the single word of these documents, but I do think we need more.

This being so it then it raises the question: what might the ordering principles be for establishing such a schema be? Tradition and the innate sense of what is appropriate would have guided the patrons in the past, and for centuries this worked well. Now things are different. We have had our own iconoclastic period which has left us disconnected from tradition in so many ways and I think that now some analysis of basic principles and a look at past practices would help us to reestablish a proper ordering of the images in our churches,

My hope is not that a set of rigid rules will be drawn up, but rather ore detailed principles and recommendations by which a pattern of art can be drawn up that would be in accord with tradition, would reflect authentic liturgical praxis and would also be particular to the congregation for whom it is primarily intended. I could imagine a whole series of different schema might develop that are all consistent with these principles.

We can take heart in this from the example of the Eastern Church, which did much scholarship in the 20th century to reestablish the iconographic tradition as a living tradition and to present a coherent account of traditional practices. As a result in a relatively short time church architecture and art is flourishing in the Eastern Rite so that in Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches today, there is the self confidence and know-how to create churches and art that are as splendid as any in the past. We can do this in the Roman Church as well if we wish to.

Here are the points that occur to me. The following is presented as start not an exhaustive analysis – rather it is a starting point from which I hope a discussion might develop:

First we need a study of scripture so that we understand the Old Testament types and the New Testament basis of the sacraments and the liturgy. This will focus particularly on the Rites of Initition – Baptism and Confirmation – and the Eucharist.

Second is a study of the texts and meanings of the words of the Rites and especially the Mass and, in the context of the Mass, I suggest, the Roman Canon. This is what will create a characteristically Roman template.

Third is to study the example of the Eastern Rites and see how their imagery is connected to the Divine Liturgy with a view to understanding how this can be done well in the West too. While we do not want simply to copy an iconostasis template, there is much to be learned by studying the principles by which it is ordered.

Fourth, in the light of all of the above, we should study the examples of past Roman churches so that we can understand why things were done as they were. This is not always easy as images are moved and replaced over time. Perhaps ancient mosaics and wall paintings are the most reliable indicators of past practice in this regard.

Fifth is liturgical action: we need to re-develop a way of participating in the liturgy that encourages engagement with art in harmony with the highest end to which our worship is directed, so that the art actually influences our Faith through the activity of worshipping God.

Sixth is to explain what we are doing and make any symbolism obvious and easily understood, not obscure. The goal of art is to reveal truth, not to mystify or create mystique unnecessarily.

Seventh is architecture – we should understand how the architecture ought to be in harmony with the church’s role, primarily, as a place for worship; and secondarily and connected to that, to display art that supports that worship.

 

Next instalment tomorrow….

The Sistine Chapel of the East

Aleteia has a brief article spotlighting the Voronet monastery in Romania. The walls of the chapel are covered inside and out with frescoes from the 15th century.

These frescoes differ from what we would typically find in orthodox iconography in that the background of the paintings is an ethereal blue rather than the gold leaf one would expect. Indeed blue is the dominant color throughout the building.

If you have never heard of Coronet Monastery, you’re in for a treat.

Take a look.

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Restoration of St. Turibius Chapel

sanctuary2b1

There is a great article on Henninger’s website about their restoration of the St. Turibius Chapel at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.

This is one of the restoration works Fr. Longnecker featured in his article about “Restoring Beauty to Our Churches.”

Take a look.

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Restoring Beauty to Our Churches **Updated**

tib-st-joe-3-690x450

(This is an update on a previous post with a link to a longer article)

Fr. Dwight Longenecker reports on the growing trend of restoring beauty to churches.

“The most dire consequence of post Vatican II architecture was in the loss of sacramental signification in church design.

The traditional styles, whether Byzantine or Baroque, Romanesque or Renaissance, all conveyed a symbolic language of form and meaning which were expressive of the great Scriptural metaphors of the Church herself. This was a rich and interwoven formal language of the body, the city, the temple which, regardless of epoch or style, allowed us to understand the church as both a sacred place and particularly as an expression of the heavenly realities.” – Steven Schloeder, architect

Read the article here.

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

The “Sistine Chapel of the Middle Ages” Reopens

web2-saint-maria-antiqua-at018-shutterstock-02-feature-image

Buried underground for 1500 years, Santa Maris Antiqua escaped the destruction of the iconoclast periods. Recently reopened it is a valuable reference for liturgical art from the  7th and 8th centuries.

Daniel Esparza has the story (with pictures!) at Aletia.

Jonathan Pageau, at the Orthodox Arts Journal, a partner of Pontifex University, also has an article on this byzantine treasure submitted by Fr. Paul Walker, an Anticham Orthodox priest.

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Restoring Beauty To Our Churches

tib-st-joe-3-690x450

Fr. Dwight Longenecker reports on the growing trend of restoring beauty to churches.

“The most dire consequence of post Vatican II architecture was in the loss of sacramental signification in church design.

The traditional styles, whether Byzantine or Baroque, Romanesque or Renaissance, all conveyed a symbolic language of form and meaning which were expressive of the great Scriptural metaphors of the Church herself. This was a rich and interwoven formal language of the body, the city, the temple which, regardless of epoch or style, allowed us to understand the church as both a sacred place and particularly as an expression of the heavenly realities.” – Steven Schloeder, architect

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Make Church Architecture Great Again

1920px-notre-dame_basilica_interior2c_montreal2c_canada_-_diliff

Brian Holdsworth describes himself as a creative professional and struggling thinker.

In the following video he gives a terrific argument for why we need our chinches to be beautiful.

“The buildings we design to focus our attention on God should reflect his beauty. And not just because it would be nice, but because God can use that to reveal himself to us. …This is something that for large parts Christian history we did understand.”

“Let’s get back to commissioning Christian designers who will allow the Holy Spirit to create beautiful buildings that people will want to visit generations from now, whether they are christian or not.”

Take a look and be sure to watch it to the end.

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Climacus Conference Talks Online

hgwpv2y5In 2015, the theme for the annual Climacus Conference in Louisville Ky, was “Truth, Beauty, Goodness, will save us.” All of the talks from the conference may be accessed online.

“From February 13th through the 14th, St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted the 2015 Climacus Conference of Thoughtful Ascent. This year’s gathering was titled “Truth, Goodness, Beauty Will Save Us” and featured lectures on Sacral and Theological Aesthetics; Objective and Transcendent Beauty; Augustine, Aquinas, and Kant on Beauty; and Imaginative, Iconographic, Architectural, and Poetic Aesthetics.”

You can find the talks here on the Ancient Faith Ministries website.

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki is a deacon for the diocese of Sacramento as well as a working artist, he writes on art and faith at www.DeaconLawrence.org 

10 Beautiful New Churches

ctkexteriorhireswc-skyoption1-1280x640

The tide is beginning to turn. After decades of church architecture that is at best liturgically questionable, more and more architects are returning to traditional forms for the newest churches.

The Christian Review has a run-up of ten that are currently in various stages of construction, Enjoy!

_________________________________________________________________

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university