Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sacred Architecture

“Good architecture is the art of building beautifully and expressively.” The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913
“Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“The beauty of the cathedral does not stand in opposition to the theology of the cross, but is its fruit.” (Cardinal Ratzinger, A New Song for the Lord)

Great cathedrals and basilicas of the past have survived the trials of history to stand as witness to the faith and devotion of those who have gone before us. They are catechisms that teach the faith in a unique way. One small example of the imagery that shines in these structures is the Rose window in the South transept of Chartres Cathedral in France. It includes four panels depicting four men each carrying a man on his shoulders. They symbolize the four evangelists being carried on the shoulders of the great prophets.

Materials intended especially for children:

*Cathedral by David Macaulay (be on the lookout for an error on the first page – the author mistakenly claims that Catholics worship relics of the saints.)

California Missions Coloring Book (Dover)

Cathedrals of the World Coloring Book (Dover)

+*Saint Joseph Messenger (monthly Catholic children’s magazine ) includes frequent articles on sacred buildings [website]

Cathedral Stained Glass Coloring Book (Dover)

Stained Glass Windows Coloring Book (Dover)

Chartres Stained Glass Windows Postcards (Dover)

Other materials:

*Great Cathedrals by Bernard Schutz (gorgeous coffee table type book)

+In Tiers of Glory: The Organic Development of Catholic Church Architecture Through the Ages by Michael S. Rose

+Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Gothic Cathedrals by Robert Barron

+A New Song for the Lord: Faith in Christ and Liturgy Today by Cardinal Ratzinger
The chapter entitled “Built from Living Stones” is provides a beautiful theology of the cathedral based upon The First Letter of Peter: “Come to Him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

+Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes (Art Services International)

Online Resources:

+The Catholic Encyclopedia Online has lots of searchable information on Sacred Architecture and great Churches around the World.

Gothic Architecture Lesson Plan

Article on Minor Basilicas in the U.S.

The Shrine of the Holy Whapping

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