Decline in Church Architecture and Art

These images speak for themselves, but I will offer a few asides to help explain why I was saddened after visiting the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago a few months ago.

Tabernacle - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
What... the... I think they might reserve the Body of Christ somewhere in that mess.

Rose Window - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
To think that, before the fire, there was probably very beautiful, meaningful and symbolic imagery in that stained glass. Now it's an abstract, and dare I say, boring sight. My eyes grew tired trying to see what was up there.

Pipe Organ - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
Amazingly, it seems the beautiful wood ceiling and majestic pipe organ were unharmed by the Cathedral's renovations. However, it seems Spider Man paid a visit to the Cathedral's narthex (the little gathering area in the back with spider webbing).

Sanctuary - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
The sanctuary, at first glance looks like it would be able to attract the eyes for a visual treat. However, upon closer inspection, the crucifix is distracting, the stained glass windows are simply a mess (there is seemingly random/patchy colors all over—not even abstract figures), and the altar and sanctuary area is almost completely unadorned.

The general lack of ornamentation in the Cathedral was very disheartening. And what was present was horribly out of place in such a gothic and majestic structure! Some of the best reading I've had on the issue of modern Church renovations and architecture is No Place for God: The Denial of Transcendence in Modern Church Architecture, by Moyra Doorly. This Church should definitely be listed as an exemplar Church for the book!


I couldn't agree with you more. Especially when it is plainly obvious that whatever is there replaced something that was there originally like the stained glass window you featured.

I have been in plenty of churches that have been "wreckovated" where their new styling clashes with the traditional architecture. It's like a certain cathedral I know well in Michigan. Norman Gothic shell with glorious stained glass windows with a modern interior that while if one looked at it broadly did fit ... really was a major "ummmm, no."

It was especially disheartening to view the interior after having approached the building with a sense of awe from the structure outside. The outside has remained relatively untouched; just the inside feels gutted and void of any true love and emotion.

Our cathedral is the bestest in the country, besides probably St. Pat's.