Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals and churches

Home Forums Ireland reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals and churches


I’ve been following this thread with some interest and have written to foscc in support of the campaign to preserve the interior integrity of this fine church. I can very readily appreciate the emotive nature of this issue and the puzzlement it causes to the average catholic in the pew.

When I was a child of twelve my own parish and school church, the Sacred Heart in Wimbledon, London, was traumatically and expensively reordered. This is a fine revival of the curviniliar phase of english decorated architecture but it, unexpectedly, has a polygonal apse with 3 radiating chapels (2 of which have preserved the original altars).

I was serving mass regularly at the time. I endeavoured to extract from the parish priest a promise to conserve the sanctuary’s fine hand painted encaustic tiles. He did so with some force: The next week I came to church to find that these had all been jack-hammered and turned in with the concrete to form the base of the new altar platform. This event, as well as the scheme itself, has rather coloured my attitude towards the clergy’s guardianship of our sacred patrimony.

Please take a look at this church at:

You will find the state as existing in the ‘history’ section and an image of the removed baldachino and high altar in the section marked ‘photographs’.

The problem we face is that, in contrast to the holy father and other sympathetic bishops priests and laity, the whip hand is under the control of those who believe that the council (V2) represents a juncture with the development of ecclesiology up to that point. This new ‘renewed’ church requires a radically different architectural manifestation. The liturgical action of the church is submitted to the higher authority of democracy and equality.

Unfortunately, ‘conservative’ resistance to this is at best ambivalent. Will there ever be a crack-down on liturgical abuses? No. Will Rome ever say anything as useful as ‘the eastward position for priest and people is desirable during the eucharistic prayer’- I’ll eat my hat, and in any case who’d obey?

The best we can do is offer ad hoc resistance to immediate threats to specific churches and hope that, over a number of years, if there are any faithful left, that the old high altars are once again used.

I am a student of architecture: For a number of years I have had an idea to compile a ‘before and after’ set of photographs of reorderings from all over the world. This would be free of an overly polemical text. The pictures would do the talking. This would show how we had all, apparently, become low church lutherans.

If anyone has any links to pictures, or pictoral data then I would be delighted to see it to start on the above project…

By the way, if you want to see a truely awful reordering or ‘adeguamento’ as the Italians call it check out the duomo in Milan. In its current state: (excellent site, incidentally…)

Can’t find a link to its prior state; the 16th C high altar’s been mutilated, ditto the balustrade of the cancelli and, of course-obligatory…?- the tesserae floor’s been ruined.

Then, also, who could forget that the mensa of Bernini’s cathedra petri altar in St Peter’s itself was destroyed under the nose of JP II himself in the early 1980’s. If we’re waiting on any intervention on the side of tradition and sacrosantum concilium from Rome vis-a-vis architectural patrimony then it could only realistically come from BXVI. If he does say anything concrete, a big if, then it will be in such a way that it can be ignored by every iconoclastic bishop who wants to remake his church in his image and make for himself a Star-Trek chair where the tabernacle used to be: cf

In site of this, I try to remain optimistic.

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