Before and After: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Lambertville, New Jersey

Quite frequently our before and after series features significant architectural renovations. Other renovations don't require quite this level of intervention but do demonstrate the important of colour and decoration in the overall effect. The following, undertaken by way of Rohn and Associates Design Inc. and the church of St. John the Evangelist in Lambertville, New Jersey, show just such a project.

Left: Before  -  Right: After
One can see here that many of the basics remain the same, and while there were some architectural changes to the sanctuary, the most impactful changes revolve around the addition of colour and art in the apse.

In progress

That said, the apse was not the only place some needed colour and detailing was added; so too were the Stations of the Cross also re-done:

The side chapels of Our Lady and St. Joseph were also re-decorated with iconographic symbols and colour. This small bit of detail shows just what a difference a bit of colour -- even muted colour -- and symbolism can have. 

Here are some more comprehensive details about the project:
Rolf Rohn, the Liturgical Design Consultant for the project, working with the pastor, Fr. Robert Kolakowski, J.C.L, and the Parish Building Committee, developed a strict budget of $2.2 million dollars that would make it possible for the Church of St. John the Evangelist to meet the needs of present and future members...

Rolf, in collaboration with Rohn & Associates Custom Studio and with vital input from Father Kolakowski and the Building Committee, was responsible for defining and implementing the multifaceted project. As they worked on the project, their vision spread from the incorporation of a new Adoration Chapel to liturgical furnishings, congregational seating, restoration of leaded glass and interior surfaces including flooring, walls and ceilings, lighting and lighting control, artwork, and other appointments...

Rohn and Associates Custom Studio designed and executed the following:

A new mural above the sanctuary features the Lamb of God—Christ—who takes away the sins of the world, the Holy Spirit, and Pelicanus. The pelican is a Eucharistic symbol of a bird that was believed to have fed its young with its own blood by piercing its breast. In ancient times, the pelican was seen as a symbol of Christ who shed his blood for his people. The pelican in the mural echoes the image carved in the altar long ago.

The faux marbling and light gilding and glazing of the columns and capitals, as well as a star-filled sapphire night sky on the apse ceiling, provide a sense of grandeur and soaring height to the interior that is in character with the French High Gothic architecture of this church.

A brand new wash of color and intricate stenciling on the shrines of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph add much-needed vitality to the images of these individuals who served as parents to the Lord in their Holy Family. Their significance is further emphasized by their placement at the head of the main aisle with a lovely inlaid Chi-Rho Symbol.

The now light-filled Adoration Chapel approachable through the narthex is enhanced by its fresh decoration, which helps to complete the return of the church of St. John the Evangelist to an atmosphere that is more traditional and brings to the environment a majestic, yet meditative sacredness.

The project in question moved the parish from one which manifested a Cistercian-esque beauty -- through the basic beauty of its architectural forms -- to one which manifested an increased appeal through colour and symbol. 

The end result is one which is likely to have an even broader aesthetic appeal to an even wider audience. 

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