Friday, November 13, 2009


Today we start a new series for Friday Potpourri. We are going to take a tour of church architecture; what the various parts are and if they have any discoverable meaning, which I can dig up, what that is.

So you are sitting in your pew looking forward toward the altar. Though the rest of the building is very square you might notice behind the altar (if it hasn’t been moved elsewhere) some features that incorporate semi-circular curves. It may be a curved or wall, it may be only rounded about the top, or it may appear as on quarter of a ball. This area is called the apse. We do not have such an area here at St. Sebastian but for locals for the first type Saint Mary in Akron is a good example, for the second St. Augustine in Barberton is a good example, and for the third the top portion of St. Bernard is a good example.

There is a symbolic reasoning for the curvature. Early in this series (a few years ago) it was noted that straight lines and squares represent earth, man, and the things that he makes. Curves and circles represent the realm of God and His creation. Is it not symbolically fantastic then that the very spot where Jesus is made truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, Who is 100% God, 100% man, the only, true, and perfect mediator between God and man is where architecturally square lines intersect with curvy lines? Here is where heaven and earth meat most truly and our churches try to tell us that in their own language.


Cracked Pot said...

Such information will enrich my time at Mass. I had no idea that even the curves and lines were intended to draw us into heavenly realities. Thanks, Father.

Seth DeMoor said...

Great information father. Do you have an opinion on the future responsibilities for church building construction in America? What has been your observation of Catholic church buildings evolution in the past 20 years? Blessings

Fr. V said...


Usually when people ask (not all that often) I say something trite (but true I think) that there is a reason why churches were by and large built a certain way for 2000 years. There are exceptions of course but most were built following certain lines because practically and symbolically they worked.

While some recent architectual experiments have yielded some new and interesting features the test of time will tell the truth of their worthiness - and I have my opinion on what that will be. oooh. I feel a post coming on.

If you go to the right column and click on "An old article of mine on architecture" you will get an idea of where I am coming from.

Thanks for asking.