Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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I think that the quality of numinousness is present in some of Schwarz’s churches, especially the earlier ones. Despite his co-opting of the Modernist aesthetic, his churches were never ‘machines for praying in’. In terms of his use of space, extravagent heights and expressive surfaces I think that the sacred purpose of these buildings would have struck their parishioners as evident. Even in his least ‘expressivist’ church, Corpus Christi, Aachen, there is a transliteration of the tradition of sacred architecture. Here we have the High Altar, a rectangular slab of black marble at the summit of eleven steps, also black. The altar is free-standing, bu there is only the slightest of spaces between it and the back wall. This huge sheer wall of white render functions conceptually almost like a baroque ‘potra caeli’ reredos. We are being invited to turn our minds beyond the immanent, the church has become a conduit through which we look beyond. This gap between the altar and this wall was not occupiable to Schwarz, the idea of versus populum here anathema. Although this may strike Prax as quite fanciful, I think that the faithful then could only have seen this wall as a reredos, accustomed as they would have been then to altars attached to retables, and it’s whiteness seen not as an extension of the Post Enlightenment attempt to sanitze (and neutralize) the Church but more as like the whiteness of the garments on Mount Tabor.

I’m getting a bit carried away here. I think I’ll stop….

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