"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
THE MOST EMINENT American church architect of this century asserted repeatedly that for all its importance it was not the architectural setting but the liturgy in that setting which constituted the supreme Christian art-form...For Ralph Adams Cram, the "perfected, ancient liturgy of the Church, with all its wealth of vestments, accessories and ceremonial," as he described it, was in and of itself in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions "a consummate work of art."
…[W]here the potential of the liturgy has been fully developed as an artform (at St. John the Evangelist, for instance, or at St. Mary the Virgin in New York, where the full solemn liturgy has been the parish's Sunday worship for more than a hundred years), Cram spoke for many when he concluded that the liturgy's "assembling of all the arts-music, poetry, drama and ceremonial-in one vast organic work of art" constitutes humanity's "greatest artistic achievement."
The Immaculate Conception was notoriously ransacked by the Jesuits in the mid-'80s, as the Globe's Michael Paulson has described:
The Renaissance Revival church, designed by Patrick C. Keely in 1861, still boasts a stunning interior, with a showpiece 19th century pipe organ considered one of the best in the world, rare 30-foot-high etched-glass windows, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling divided into pale blue coffers decorated with rosettes.
But in the course of reconfiguring the worship space to meet new liturgical and space imperatives, church officials ripped out and destroyed the pews, broke the pulpit and stashed it in a closet, hid the communion rail behind wainscoting, and removed the paintings of Jesus, St. Andrew, and St. John, as well as the stations of the cross. The paintings, which are thought to be by Constantino Brumidi, who painted the frescoed frieze in the US Capitol's rotunda, were stashed in boxes under a leaky false floor.
One hates to think of what will become of the magnificent high altar pictured above when Boston's Holy Trinity German Church, site of the Latin Mass in the city, is closed at the end of June. There is talk of the Tridentines being moved to a church in Chinatown, St James the Greater, which has a fine interior, but nothing like the great Bavarian wedding cake of a high altar at the German Church. What a shame it will be if it falls to the sledgehammers.