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Antiphon
15.2(2011):102-127
BuildingaCatholicChurchinthe21stCentury:TraditionObserved,PartI
FrankMitjans
Thispaperisaresultofmanydiscussionswithfellowarchitectsoverthelastfewyears.Italsodrawsstronglyonthebook
The
Spirit
oj
theLiturgy,
bythethenJosephCardinalRatzinger,
I
nowPopeBenedictXVI,andthetwolettersofPopeJohnPaulII,
EcclesiadeEucharistia
(17April2003)and
ManenobiscumDomine
(7October2004).
It
isaddressedtothepromotersofnewchurches,andtothearchitectsandartistswhohavetodesignandbuildthem.Whatshouldwebuild?Whatoughtourbrieftobe?Indiscussingtheissuesconsideredherewiththoseinterestedinpromotingnewchurches,andinattemptingtodefinethebrief,somehaveremarkedtomethat"modernchurches"arelesssuitablethanchurchesbuiltinthepast.Soshouldwebuild"modernchurches"orshouldwesimplyreproducethe"styles"ofthepast?Othersseemhappywithchurchesthatlackornamentation,andask:whyspendmoreiftheywork?Isitnotenoughtohaveproperheatingandacoustics?Architectsandartistsseemtohavemoredefiniteand-attimes-fixedideas.
Ofcourse-
weseemtosay-
weneedtofollowthe"modernidiom"andeducatetheclientifhedoesnotappreciateit!
Others,however,considerthattheformsofthepastarerequiredifwearegoingtohavebuildingsthatareconducivetopietyandrespondtotheneedsoftheliturgyItseemstobedifficulttounderstandarchitects.Whyisthisso?Architectsthemselvesneedtounderstandwhatachurchis.Itisnotenoughtobeagoodarchitectinotherfields,nortotakeinto
1ThisbookappearedintheJubileeYear2000.
It
hasnowbeenin-cludedasthecentraltextinthefirstpublishedvolumeofRatzinger's
OperaOmnia.
It
isenvisagedthatthe
OperaOmnia
will
havesixteenvolumes.Vol-umeXIistheonethathasbeenpublishedfirst;itisentitled"TheologyoftheLiturgy"anditincludesaPrefacebyBenedictXVI,dated29June2008.ReferencesandquotationsarefromtheEnglishtranslation,
TheSpirit
oj
theLiturgy
(SanFrancisco:IgnatiusPress,2000).BUILDINGACATHOLICCHURCHINTHE21STCENTURY:TRADITIONOBSERVED,PART
r
103
~ccountthespeci~cationsgiven,forinstance,inthechapteronbuild-mgnewchurchesmthe
GeneralInstruction
oj
theRomanMissal."
inthesamewayastheymighttakeintoaccounttherulesandstandardsgiveninthelocal
BuildingRegulations
orthe
MetricHandbook
oj
Plan-ningandDesignData.
~,ohn~aulII,inhisletter
Ecclesia
deEucharistia
(no.49),wrotethatthearchitecture,sculpture,paintingandmusic"usedinchurchesca.mefromanunderstandingof"theChristianmystery",that"thefaithoftheChurchinthemysteryoftheEucharisthasfoundhis-toricalexpression[...]
inoutwardf07711s".
"Thedesignsofaltarsandtaberr:ac.le~wit~in.Churchinteriorswereoftennotsimplymotivatedbya~tIstIc
msprration
butals~byaclearunderstandingofthemys-te?AndheconcludedthatsacredartmustbeoutstandingforitsabIlrty;oexpressadeq,:atelythemysterygraspedinthe
fullness
oj
theChurch
s
faith[...].
ThISholdstruebothforthefigurativeartsandforsacredmusic."Thesenote~havebeenm_otivatedbyadesire"tograspthemys-terythatarchitectsand
artists-
andindeedthewholeChristianpeople.-wanttoexpressinthebuildingofachurch,andwiththehopeofgettmgclosertoanswenngthequestionofwhatweshouldbuild.
I.
HISTORICALINTRODUCTION:FROMTHEBEGINNINGToTHE19THCENTURY
Inthetextjustcitedweweretoldthat"thefaithoftheChurchinthemysteryoftheEucharisthasfoundhistoricalexpression[...]inoutwardforms."Itisthereforefittingthatwelookatthehistoricaldevelopmentofthoseoutwardforms.Sincethe4thcentury;ChristianchurchesintheWesthavefol-l~wedinm?stcase~the.arrangementoftheRomanbasilica:alongitu-dmalnave.
111
thed~ectIOnofthealtar,apsebehindthealtar,lightingth~oughwindowshIghuponthesidewalls,aswellasgreatwidthandheight,alltogether.g~vingasizeableinteriorvolume.Thisarrange-mentofRomanba~Ihcas.waseffectivelymaintainedthroughouttheRomanesque,Gothic,ItalianRenaissance,Baroque,Neoclassical,andNeo-Gothicperiods..Fromthe4thtothe19thcenturiestherewasgenerallyacontinu-ttyandgradualevolution,whichwecalla
tradition,
althoughattimesnewformswer~adoptedbecauseofanewtheologicalunderstandingorsometechnicaladvance.Inthiscontinuityandevolution
tip
((I
the19thcentury;weobservea
classicallanguage-
asdescribd
hi.'
I
2Thelatesteditionofthe
GeneralInstruction
oj
the
Roman
M/llol"
111111
oftheyear2000.
 
104FRANKMITJANS
JohnSummersonin1963
3
-and
Gothicforms.
TheclassicallanguageisbasedonGreekandRomanarchitectureanditwasusedintheRenaissance,Baroque,andNeoclassicalperiods.Attimes,insteadof
continuityandgradualevolution
therehasbeenareturntoearlierforms,asforinstanceintheRenaissanceorNeo-Gothicmovements.Thishasrequireda
study
ofpriorforms,moti-vatedperhapsbyre-discoveryornewappreciationoftheirmerits,orevenbecauseofrejectionofcontemporaryforms.Oftentherehavebeen
ideologicalreasons
forabandoningparticularformsandchoosingpreviousones.Forinstance,aftertheseparationfromRome,insteadofadoptingtheItalianatearchitectureoftheRenaissance,theUniversityofOxford-theprincipalseatoflearningoftheChurchofEngland-thoughwellawareofthoseItalianideasandhavingalreadyusedtheclassi-calorders,continuedbuildingintheGothicstyletoemphasisehercontinuitywiththeChurch
in
EnglandpriortothereformandsoherindependencefromRome.ThisisthecaseofnewbuildingsatOrielCollege(1620-42)andUniversityCollege(from1634),inparticularofthechapelsofLincolnCollege(1629)andofBrasenoseCollege(1659),nottomentiontheLibraryofStJohn'sCollege,Cambridge(1623-25),4eventhoughlaterSirChristopherWren(1632-1723),thearchitectoftheLondonCitychurches(seebelow),builttheShel-donianTheatre(1664-68),andNicholasHawksmoor,hispupil,theClarendonBuilding(1711-15)inneoclassicalstyle.HawksmoorwasalsoresponsiblefortheFrontQuadofQueen'sCollege,thegreatestpieceofclassicalarchitectureinOxford(1730).TheEnglisharchitectA.WN.Pugininthe19thcenturystatedinhismanifesto-
Contrasts,oraParallelbetweentheNobleEdifices
rif
theMiddleAges,andSimilarBuildingsofthePresentDay-
thatthebuildingofaChristianchurchshouldfollowtheformsofGothicarchitecture.Thatis,heconsideredGothicarchitecturetobeChristianwhiletheneoclassicalarchitectureusedinEnglishProtestantchurchesinthe18thand19thcenturytobepagan.HepromotedareturntoGothicarchitecturenotbecauseoftechnicaladvancesorforliturgicalreasonsbutforideologicalreasons;tosuchanextentthatGothicwasbyhimcalled
"Christian
architecture">
Infact,whileinthefirsteditionof
3ThisterminologyhasbeenwidelyusedsincethesixBBCradioprogrammesbySirJohnSummerson,
TheClassicalLanguageofArchitecture,
broadcastedin1963.TheywerelaterprintedinbookformbyMITPress(Boston,1965).4Cf.
C.
Brooks,
TheGothicRevival,
"TheRhetoricsofPower,"(Phai-don,London,1999),21-48.5A.WN.Pugin,
Contrasts,orAParallelbetweentheNobleEdificesofthe
BUILqINGACATHOLICCHURCHINTHE21STCENTURY:TRAQ,ITIONOBSERVED,PARTI105
CO~l~rasts
heattributedtheneoclassicalonpaganism,inthesecondeditionhehadtorecognisethatthecoldandclinicalneoclassicalarchitecturehewascriticisingwasusedalsoinCatholicchurchesinFrance,anditwasduetoFrenchculturalpredominancethatitwasfollowedinEngland.Similarly,inbuildingthe
NewWestLondonSynagogue,(,
alsointhe19thcen~ury,be~auseGothicarchitecturewasconsideredAnglicanandclassicalarchitecturewasusedbyChristiannon-conformists,theSpanishMozarabicstylewaschosen(Figure08).Atthebeginningofthe20thcentury,theCatholicCathedralofWestminster(~ondon)wasbuiltinaByzantinestyletodistinguishitfromtheGothicandNeo-GothicofAnglicanchurches,theNeoclas-sicalofNonconformistProtestants,andtheItalianatearchitectureusedinRome.However,inthecourseofthe19thcenturythis
continuityandgradualevolution
wasgoingtobedeeplyaltered.ThearchitectandauthorCiroLomontewouldask:Howisitthatcreativitystopsandlooksbackwardstotheformsofpreviouscenturies?Theimpo.rtancegiventothestudyofhistoryinthe19thcenturyledtoadefinmgandnamingofestablishedstyles:
Classical
(withits
ordersl),Byzantine,
Romanesque,
Gothic,
H
Renaissance,Baroque,Neoclas-
si~,
andNco-Gothic.
And,duetothetechnologicaladvancesthatcameWiththeIndustrialRevolution,everythingthathadbeenbuiltbeforecouldnowbebuilt.
MiddleAges,andSimilarBUildings
of
thePresentDay
(1836),intheeditionofLeicesterUniversityPress,1973,2.6The
NewWestE:ldSynagogue
(1877-79),atStPetersburghPlace,LondonW_2,bythearchitectGeorgeAshdownAudsley,.7This19th-centurysystematizationofcoursestartedearlier,Inpar-
t
icular,theclass~cal~rdersasweknowthemweregiveninthe
TenBoolesof/vrchitecture
byVltruVIUS,andwereusedintheRenaissanceandbytheoreti-cians.suchasAlberti,VasariandPalladio.Itisinterestingtonote,however,
I
hatinarecenteditionofthe
TenBooksofArchitecture
itisclaimedthat
Vitruvius,
rat~e~'thandefiningspecific
orders,
wasjustexplainingthegen-cralcharacteristicsofthetemplesbuiltundertheinfluenceoftheDorianslonians,andCorinthians;thatis,hewastreatingofgenresratherthanoforders(Cf.
T.
G,Smith,
VitruJJiusonArchitecture,
NewYork:MonacelliPress'.003),Vitruvius'sworkwaswritteninthefirstcenturybeforeChrist,andsincethenmanycopieshavebeenmade;itwasfirstprintedin1486.In,1485,basedon_Yitruv!us'streatise,AlbertipublishedDe
reaedificatoria,
and
In
1570,Palladiopublished
J
quattrolihri
dell'architettura.
"~"Y~iletheauthorsoftheItalianRenaissance,suchasVasari,speak
(II
gothiCcontemptuously,Pugin,whointhe19thcenturypromoted
II
r
Lurn
toGothicarchitecture,didnotusethetermbutcalleditrather"Pointedarchitecture",
 
IOIi
FRANKMITJANStilgil
rt·
H:
New
West
EndSynagogue:InteriorspacefocusedontheTorah
NewWestEndSynagogue
(1877):TheShrinewherethescrollsoftheToraharekeptisthefocusofthesynagogue,oppositetheentrance.TheShnne
IS
orientedtowardstheArkoftheCovenantintheTempleofJerusalem.Theworshippersareplacedtorightandleftoftheshrine,andtherabbiisplacedoppositetheShrine.ThisphotographiscourtesyoftheNewWestEndSynagogue,StPetersburghPlace,LondonW2,England
©
2010BUILDINGACATHOLICCHURCHINTHE21STCENTURY:TRADITIONOBSERVED,PARTI107
Therefore,the
style
usedinabuildingnolongerdependedonatraditionoronthetechniquesofagivenperiodandplace,butonthe
possibilityofchoosing.
The"client"nowhadthepossibilityofcommis-sioningbuildingsofanystyle,andthiswascompletelynew.Orrather,whatwasnewinthe19thcenturywasthepossibilityofbuildingforinstanceinaGothicstyle,notasaresultofanevolutionbutasachoice.Ofcourse,ashasbeensaidabove,theRenaissanceandotherperiodsofferedthepossibilityofchoosingaswell.Thestudyandbroadcastingofstylesisdonemainlyinthe
Aca-demiesdesBeaux-Arts
andSchoolsofArchitecture.EdwinHeathcotearguesthatacademicandtechnicalknowledgecutofftheflowofcreativity:"thesceneinEuropeattheturnofthe[20th]centurywasclutteredwithstyles.Gothic,classicalandneo-renaissanceviedwitheachotherandinnovationinecclesiasticalarchitecturewasrare.
"9
Thoughtheobjectofthesehistoricalnotesisjusttointroducethemodernmovementofthe20thcentury;perhapsitisworthaddingthebriefestreferencetotheEnglishGothicRevivalwhichpredominatedduringthereignofQueenVictoria(1837-1901).
As
hasbeenseenabovewithreferencetoseventeenth-centuryOxford,GothichadalwaysmaintainedapresenceinEngland.TheCatholicReliefActof1791liftedtheprohibitionofbuildingCatholicchurches,andDrJohnMilner(1752-1826),'1lparishpriestofWinchesterandlaterVicarApostolic,lostnotimeinbuildingthenewparishchurchofStPeter(1792)inGothicstyle;lateronhepublished
History,
CivilandEccle-siastical,andaSun7{Y
of
theAntiquities
of
Winchesta
Therewereotherhistoricalstudies,inparticularthatofthearchitectThomasRickmanwhopopularisedtheterms"Norman","EarlyEnglish","Decorated",and"Perpendicular"torefertoEnglishstylesofarchitectureintheRomanesqueandGothicperiods.ThesestudiesbyarchitectsandantiquariansculminatedintheabovementionedworkbyPugin
(1812-1852),Contrasts
(1836).ButatthesametimescholarsoftheOxfordmovementstartedpublishing
TractsfortheTimes
emphasisingtheneedfortheChurchofEnglandtorecoveritstradition,andtheCambridgeCamdenSociety(1839)publishedrecommendationsonliturgyandchurcharchitecture,inparticularintheirjournal,
The
Ecclesiologist.
TheOxfordSOCietyforPromotingtheStudyofGothicArchitecturewasfoundedataboutthesametime.Puginbuiltmany
9E.Heathcote,"The20th-CenturyChurch",Introductionto
ChurchBuildersoftheTivcntietltCentury
(London:AcademyEditions,1997),8-71.ThisIntroductionisreproducedin
ContemporaryChurchArchitecture
(Chich-ester,England:Wiley-Academy,2007).10NigelYates,
LiturgicalSpace:ChristianWorshipandChurchBUildings
in
WesternEurope,1500-2000
(Ashgate,Aldershot,England,2008)114.

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