Another Case Study in the Noble Beauty and Simplicity of the Traditional Sanctuary

In the past we have shown various mock ups that demonstrate the noble beauty and simplicity of the traditional sanctuary order. The purpose behind this exercise is to give people a glimpse into just how much of an impact is frequently felt by the multiplication of objects in the sanctuary, particularly when they do not align to the original design intention of a building. In some instances this can be quite extreme but even in other instances where this is less so, the impact can still be felt.

Our current example, taken from a beautiful parish church in the United Kingdom (Holy Ghost Church in Yeovil), has one simple addition: a concrete (sic) altar in the midst of the historical sanctuary.  Let's take a look.

As one can see, the rest of this church is historically in fact. Quite beautiful. However, now let's take a quick look at what happens when we fully restore this church to its historical arrangement by removing the forward altar that was added in the post-conciliar era:

What then is the impact? First off, from a sight lines perspective, one's eye is now led down the nave, up into the sanctuary, through it,up to the predella and finally to the altar. The changes of various elevations itself tell us a story about what is most important and most central in this church: the altar of sacrifice.  There is a sense of a narrative and a sacred drama that is revealed through this arrangement; one might say a sense of what is the climax.

By comparison, the addition of the freestanding altar into this mix is not only liturgically unnecessary what it has effectively done is interrupted this, creating something more disjointed; a less unified whole. 

Of the two arrangements, the historical arrangement not only best presents the reality of the centrality of the altar, it is also the least cluttered. In this regard it to my mind is not only a better reflection of the principle of noble beauty, it is also a better manifestation of genuine noble simplicity. (Too often 'noble simplicity' is made out to be a synonym for "plain" or minimalist but that is not in fact the case. Noble simplicity is not a style; noble simplicity is a principle and that principle has as much to do with the whole as it does the parts and the ordering of those parts into a unified whole.)

While we are on this church, the reredos is certainly worth a closer look:

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