Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Church of the Gesu


  1. Michael,

    I'm not certain what point you're trying to make in this thread. Most cathedrals are beautiful and triumphs of human endeavor, representing the equivalent of the Apollo project.

    No atheist would disagree.

    The atheist author Ken Follett wrote a thousand page novel 'the Pillars of the Earth' (one of my favorite books) about the building of a cathedral in medieval England, as a homage to cathedrals.

    The Australian atheist writer Phillip Adams noted that left to atheists all we'd have is office blocks.

    When I worked at Royal Perth Hospital I used to love looking at the Catholic Saint Mary's Cathedral in the adjacent Victoria Square. Recently, they did a renovation and extension adding modern elements at a cost of tens of millions of dollars (and the architects did a good job too).

    Cathedrals were once built to inspire awe. Nowadays, with the skyscrapers in modern cities, often they're the only human structures in cities.

    I'd take issue with the second link. I don't think they're examples of architecture. I think that they're sculptures.

    1. "No atheist would disagree."
      Do you mean no true atheist would agree, Bach?
      There are a few Atheist dictators that did not agree, who immediately jump to mind.

      BTW, on the 'Pillars of the Earth'.
      Never did read the book, but I saw the HBO thing. I had originally intended to watch the program, then read the book - so as not to be disappointed with the cinematic version (my usual tactic).
      I found it rather hollow. Not a very good medieval tale at all. I find it very ironic that a story written about Cathedrals should, at least in it's screen form, be without any real foundation or central keystone.
      Despite a decent cast and set, and being set 'in my period' and a BIG budget... it all fell VERY flat (no pun intended - for those of you who have watched).
      It was so shallow and slow motion that I never did get about to reading the book.

    2. CrusadeRex,

      You should read the book. I've got the DVD, and I was only able to watch the first 10' before giving up. It was a travesty.

      Nothing else you've written today is worth responding to.

    3. Bach,
      You DO mean 'no true atheist' would agree.
      Too funny!

    4. CrusadeRex,

      Well, you weren't specific enough for me to comment. If you were referring to Lenin and Stalin, then they didn't destroy the Russian cathedrals and churches. They appropriated them for other purposes, such as storage facilities and museums. The cases of small churches being destroyed was probably just a case of small town hicks behaving badly, eliminating their heritage.

      There are plenty of cathedrals and churches left in Russia. The Russian government would love to give them back to the Russian orthodox church to save them the cost of maintenance, but the church doesn't have the means either.

      The point is; the Russian communists recognized the value of the architecture if not the institution underlying it.

      Have you reconsidered reading 'the Pillars of the Earth'? The central character is Prior Phillip, the central event is the murder in the cathedral and the central theme is the rights of people in the face of rulers' power. It should appeal to you.

  2. Awesome stuff, Mike.
    Rome is truly home to many splendours. It certainly has it's attractions to me, anyway.
    The Cathedrals are no exception, but rather the crowning masterpieces of that most pivotal city.
    No one (but the thickest dullard) who has been and seen them could walk away without effect or impact.
    But...I must admit, I am inclined to shrines, missions, abbeys, and old parish churches for worship or contemplation. I think perhaps, in retrospect, I always have been.
    I could not easily imagine myself regularly in the aisles of Notre Dame (in Paris or locally) or even a Westminster for a daily or weekly service; although I have attended a mass or service at all the above mentioned.
    But I would readily recommend attending such a service (choir or organ if possible) if you are visiting a region with Great Cathedrals. Medieval - High Medieval (Renaissance/Baroque) structures strike me as most impressive an profound, but I also love the Neo Gothic later period stuff. It is also something to behold.

    There is a spirit or presence in such Architecture.
    A kind of reticent 'feeling', and this subtle feeling is fluid from alcove to alcove, seat to seat, altar to altar, and window to window.
    Then there is the light and sound!
    I have heard the illuminations described as a 'symphony of light and colour around shadows' (my translation) and I think that quite accurate.
    I find the same kind of feeling in my smaller and more remote places, but it is a more subtle call. The contrast in such places is not with the masses and modern towers of industry, but with the woods, plains, desert, hills, or sea. With nature.
    That said I would recommend two cities in North America for anyone interested in seeing some fantastic old Churches and Cathedrals and even some of Original High Medieval/Renaissance styles RARE in the New Wold: Old Quebec City (with the gates), and Guanajuato City of the state of the same name, in Mexico. They are both world heritage sites and very clean and safe places to visit. There is much in the way of history that will fascinate the interested in both areas. There are vaults, tunnels, old mines, battlefields, hiking trails, ruins, fine dining, shopping, name it. Those of you who have recently seen 'For Greater Glory' will be familiar with Guanajuato as the centre of the Cristeros revolt.
    Both cities are something else...
    But the Churches?
    Neither city may have the sheer numbers that their European counterparts do, but they are sure a whole lot closer and CHEAPER to see and visit for us North Americans, and they do have the same feel to them.
    Also both regions are homes to convents, abbeys, shrines, and places of pilgrimage for those seekers among you.
    Check them out if you're ever nearby.

    1. ** Should read 'within the gates'. **

    2. crus:

      Thanks for the tips, especially on Old Quebec City. We live not too far from there, and we will try to visit.


    3. Certainly worth the drive, Mike.
      Not many places like it this side of the ocean, or anywhere.
      Great food and cafe scene too!

  3. Oh good, because we’re all going to rush right up there and that would have confused the whole trip.


    1. You seem to have overdosed on your meds (again) KW.
      You are completely incoherent.