The Church of San Pietro in Albe

The Church of San Pietro in Albe Located in Abruzzo, the region of Italy that sits beside Lazio where Rome is located, is the impressive church of San Pietro in Albe -- now a museum rather than an active church. The church is situated over a former pagan temple to the Roman god Apollo located in the small …

The Shrine to St. Joseph and Its Historic High Altar (Archdiocese of St. Louis)

The Shrine to St. Joseph and Its Historic High Altar (Archdiocese of St. Louis) North America has two prominent shrines to St. Joseph that draw the faithful by supernatural instinct, turning to their foster father in heaven with childlike trust and devotion. Both destinations are places of miracles that gather pilgrims from near and afar: one in Montre…

On the Lamps, Candelabra and Lights of the Paleochristian Basilica

On the Lamps, Candelabra and Lights of the Paleochristian Basilica Thinking about the atmosphere of the paleochristian basilicas in the Rome of Constantine and thereafter is a subject that can be quite tantalizing if you use a little liturgical history combined with some imagination.  What were they like? In many regards they're going …

Churches of Latin America: Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los Cielos, Mexico City

Churches of Latin America: Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los Cielos, Mexico City Continuing on with our considerations of some of the beautiful and historic churches of the old colonial missions in Latin America, we turn to the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos (Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of th…

The Tomb of Archbishop Sheen: Cathedral of St. Mary (Peoria, Illinois)

The Tomb of Archbishop Sheen: Cathedral of St. Mary (Peoria, Illinois) One of the most important new pilgrimage destinations in the United States is the final resting place of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, located since 2019 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois.  Sheen is entombed in a side alcove chapel on the left…

Seven Deacons, Seven Subdeacons, Seven Acolytes, Seven Candles - An Inquiry

Seven Deacons, Seven Subdeacons, Seven Acolytes, Seven Candles - An Inquiry One of them ceremonial curiosities that turns up from time to time is mention of the number of seven in relation to various clerics and sacred ministers within the liturgical sphere. This has mainly received some attention in relation to the pontifical liturgy of the tradit…

The Traditional Papal Corpus Christi Procession in Rome Prior to the End of the Papal States Described

The Traditional Papal Corpus Christi Procession in Rome Prior to the End of the Papal States Described Up until 1870, with the end of the papal states, the popes led a grand Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Rome, beginning at St. Peter's Basilica. (It wouldn't be until almost 100 years later, under Pope John Paul II, that this tradition would be reviv…

Before and After: St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Valley Falls, Kansas

Before and After: St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Valley Falls, Kansas We're pleased to bring you yet another 'before and after' -- and fortunately, 'before and afters' seem to rarely be in short supply these days. This particular one comes by way of Ecclesiastical Studios and Sons  at St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Ca…

Baroque and Rococo Chasubles from Eastern Europe

Baroque and Rococo Chasubles from Eastern Europe If you look toward Eastern Europe, one will see a rather different influence in design compared to their Western European counterparts -- a certain rustic quality one might say. While they are indeed of the same design family in many regards, nonetheless the style and the t…

Lex Orandi: Liturgical Arts As Visible Signs and Expressions of Continuity

Lex Orandi: Liturgical Arts As Visible Signs and Expressions of Continuity A point that must always be borne in mind is that liturgical art, of whatever type, is not merely 'window dressing.' It is not an inconsequential 'frill.' It, as much as anything, forms a part of the content of divine worship, just as do the liturgical texts…

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America (Washington, D.C.)

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America (Washington, D.C.) It was a delight to visit once again earlier this year the  Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.  Such solitary grandeur - a true pilgrimage destination - on a wooded hillside in Northeast Washington.  There is found the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a truly fas…

Minor Roman Basilicas: San Giovanni a Porta Latina

Minor Roman Basilicas: San Giovanni a Porta Latina Most of the facades of the churches of Rome were given a baroque update, creating some of the most iconic and spectacular facades anywhere in Christendom. Indeed, Rome is synonymous with the baroque in many regards, but beneath that baroque veneer are frequently Romanesque …

Traditional Reverences Offered to the Office of the Vicar of Christ (The Pope)

Traditional Reverences Offered to the Office of the Vicar of Christ (The Pope) One of the elements that one sometimes sees popularly depicted in films and the like is the tradition of kissing the pope's foot. Of course in present times such actions are frequently viewed in a negative light even by Catholics and, in view of that, it seemed to be so…

Candlesticks from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Candlesticks from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth Candles (and therefore candlesticks) are an ancient accessory of worship.  In the Christian tradition special candlesticks have been used for different occasions and liturgical seasons.  For example, in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum  mention is made of silver for great feasts…

A Closer Look at Two Important Icons in Venice and Rome

A Closer Look at Two Important Icons in Venice and Rome Icons are most typically associated with the Eastern churches, but of course they actually represent a shared patrimony of both East and West. Two prominent icons that can be found within Italy are situated in Venice, in the high altar of the the basilica of Santa Maria del…

Forgotten Roman Customs of Pentecost

Forgotten Roman Customs of Pentecost Many are well familiar by now with the custom of the shower of red rose petals sent down from the oculus of the Pantheon on the feast of Pentecost, a custom that is frequently dated back to around the beginning of the seventh century. What many not know is that there were a…

Ornamental and Heraldic Woodcarver Patrick Damiaens of Belgium

Ornamental and Heraldic Woodcarver Patrick Damiaens of Belgium Anyone who has traveled through Europe knows well how inspiring and overwhelming it is to see all the wood carvings done by hand in churches and homes and public buildings.  This is a forgotten art is that is making a gradual comeback by a handful of gifted artists.  Althou…

Classicism Meets Catholicism in these Rococo Vestments from Lithuania

Classicism Meets Catholicism in these Rococo Vestments from Lithuania I am, admittedly, not a fan particularly of vestments which employ full blown scenes upon them -- an article perhaps for another day.  However, personal preferences aside, this particular series of vestments -- which originated within Lithuania -- are certainly worth sharin…

Before and After: St. Louis' Church in Memphis

Before and After: St. Louis' Church in Memphis C onrad Schmitt Studios recently shared another 'before and after' project, this time at St. Louis's Catholic Church located in Memphis, Tennessee. This particular example shows us a relatively modern church in a style typical of the mid 20th century. As was so o…

The Vanquished Altar of the Chair of the Vatican Basilica

The Vanquished Altar of the Chair of the Vatican Basilica The altar depicted in the photo was placed here in St. Peter's Basilica during the reign of Pius IX and was removed by order of the Rev. Fabbrica di San Pietro in 1994.  The various candlesticks are on display today in the Treasury Museum of St. Peter's Basilica, lo…

The Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama

The Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery  is an awesome sanctuary in the rolling hills of Hanceville, Alabama (Diocese of Birmingham).  Constructed in the creative footprint of the 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Shrine…

Contrasts - More Atypical Colour Combinations in Vestment Design

Contrasts - More Atypical Colour Combinations in Vestment Design We live in an age when we've become accustomed to commonly used templates for vestments. Gold and silver highlights and orphreys for example; primary colour damasks. For those more familiar with eighteenth century vestment work, pastel colours are frequently seen. So of…

Sacro Monte di Orta - The Canonization of Saint Francis by Pope Gregory IX

Sacro Monte di Orta - The Canonization of Saint Francis by Pope Gregory IX S acro Monte di Orta is a series of chapels that are of unique interest. Located in Piedmont in the north of Italy, construction began in 1583 and the original project envisioned 36 "chapels" which were dedicated to St. Francis and his order. The chapels are unique…

Book Review: Churches Their Plan and Furnishing by Peter F. Anson (Romanitas Press)

Book Review: Churches Their Plan and Furnishing by Peter F. Anson (Romanitas Press) The most delightful book I have seen on the subject of building and remodeling Catholic churches is Churches Their Plan and Furnishing by Peter F. Anson.  This easy to read and little-known softcover book has recently been republished by our good friends at Romanitas Press .…

Envisioning Old St. Peter's at the End of the Middle Ages: The Atrium and Facade

Envisioning Old St. Peter's at the End of the Middle Ages: The Atrium and Facade Old St. Peter's is a topic of endless fascination for many, inspired both by an interest in the antiquity of the basilica and also in part by a bitter-sweetness that is imparted jointly by both an appreciation for the beauty of the present basilica alongside also a sens…

Romanitas: The Display of Church Plate for Solemn Occasions and an Inquiry into Roman Origins

Romanitas: The Display of Church Plate for Solemn Occasions and an Inquiry into Roman Origins A custom found in the Roman church is the rich display of church plate -- called, in Italian, "piatto da parata" -- and the like on important and solemn occasions such as the visit of a Cardinal or at times other important feasts or occasions. Essentially the prac…

The Relics of St. Bernadette Soubirous in the USA

The Relics of St. Bernadette Soubirous in the USA The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has organized a five-month long pilgrimage of the relics of St. Bernadette Soubirous in the United States. The special tour was prepared in partnership with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, North American Volunteers, Hos…

Before and After; St. Thomas the Apostle in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Before and After; St. Thomas the Apostle in Ann Arbor, Michigan C onrad Schmitt Studios recently shared a 'before and after' project which is situated at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 120 year old church had originally contained a mural of the Ascension within its apse which, regrettably, had …

Liturgical Notes on the Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Rite of Lyon (Part 1 of 2)

Liturgical Notes on the Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Rite of Lyon (Part 1 of 2) The following is a description of the Mass of Catechumens of the rite of Lyon in its pontifical form. The Lyonese rite has long interested me and it is said that some of its features find similarities to the papal liturgy of old -- namely, as described in the Ordo Romanus P…

A Selection of Vestments from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City

A Selection of Vestments from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption (Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los Cielos) is host to many fine elements of liturgical art, not least of which its impressive collection of sacred vestments. We are fortunate that a selectio…

The Helmet of Salvation: The Art of Crafting an Amice

The Helmet of Salvation: The Art of Crafting an Amice S acra Indumenta in Connecticut are making a name for themselves with an enhanced level of quality craftsmanship (and very interesting workshops).  This brings to mind the good old days of family owned full-service design and tailoring ateliers in places like Lyon, Milan, Ge…

The Twelfth Century Chasuble of Saint-Yves

The Twelfth Century Chasuble of Saint-Yves Very few intact vestments from the medieval era remain, but one of a handful which can still be found is the so called chasuble of Saint-Yves, so named because it is found in the French church of St. Yves de Louannec. An interesting design feature of the chasuble is the sli…

Two Examples of the Mitra Pretiosa

Two Examples of the Mitra Pretiosa The following mitres belong in the private collection and chapel of an Italian friend who will, of course, remain anonymous. It shows two classically designed mitra pretiosa (precious mitres) decorated in a style that was commonly seen through the period of the 16th through…

Churches of Latin America: São Francisco in Salvador, Brazil

Churches of Latin America: São Francisco in Salvador, Brazil Continuing with our consideration of some of the churches of Latin America, today we turn to the Franciscan church of São Francisco in Salvador, Brazil. With the approval of Pope Sixtus V, the first church and monastery on this site was built by the Franciscans in 1587, but…

The Art of Restoring Church Paintings with Parma Conservation

The Art of Restoring Church Paintings with Parma Conservation Art restoration is a major component of the liturgical arts.  Just as words edify the ears so also images stimulate the eyes and satisfy the soul.  Church paintings, murals, marouflaging images on architectural surfaces (designs painted on canvas and adhered to walls), and …

Avoiding Symbol and Image Overload in Contemporary Vestment Design

Avoiding Symbol and Image Overload in Contemporary Vestment Design There is, arguably, a renaissance in vestment design that is taking place, however as with any rebirth there are bound to be some occasional growing pains. One of the trends I've been observing, which is driven as much by the consumer of these items as any motives of th…

Regional Variations on the Surplice: Venetian and Hispanic

Regional Variations on the Surplice: Venetian and Hispanic In the realm of vestments we have featured how there are different regional cuts that can be observed. While these are not hard and fast divisions, they represent trends particular to a region; sometimes they represent an older tradition that has been maintained in a partic…

An Introduction to Martin Earle Sacred Art and Furnishings

An Introduction to Martin Earle Sacred Art and Furnishings Today I wished to introduce you to some of the work of Martin Earle of Martin Earle Sacred Art and Furnishings . Martin is based out of England and studied at the Royal College of Art. His work ranges from first millennium iconographic depictions (a shared tradition of both …

Another Approach to Memento Mori on Vestments

Another Approach to Memento Mori on Vestments Typically when we think of memento mori on chasubles, we've focused on the use of skulls, but of course there were other expressions, particularly as skulls went on the 'outs' during the mid 19th century. Another expression that took place was to include other s…

The Art of Making Altar Breads

The Art of Making Altar Breads In the past many parishes made their own altar breads,  produced from wheat that is unleavened (without yeast).  Some still make their own, with dedicated volunteers helping out on a regular schedule.  Also, there are a handful of monasteries that still make, sell, and dist…

Vesting Prayers for the Sacristy

Vesting Prayers for the Sacristy Every sacristy would do well to have this hand-lettered list of vesting prayers framed and visible on the vesting cabinet.  These are prayers that a priest prays for the donning of each of the sacred vestments in the sacristy before Mass.  Also helpful is the prayer for the…

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics in Ohio (Archdiocese of Cincinnati)

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics in Ohio (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) Visitors approaching the farming community of Maria Stein in Western Ohio notice two large steeples from separate churches soaring into the sky.  These symbolic monuments to God are testimonies of the solid faith of the German immigrant farmers who settled here during the n…

Formed in Beauty: Sacred Art by Tianna Williams

Formed in Beauty: Sacred Art by Tianna Williams One of the most gifted Catholic artists of today is Tianna Williams of Canada.  Her paintings are simply  astounding.   Some of her most recent works include a series of paintings of saints done in collaboration with Ascension Press and Fr. Josh Johnson, seen here .  Last ye…

Before and After: Statue Restoration by Conrad Schmitt Studios

Before and After: Statue Restoration by Conrad Schmitt Studios It is very easy to consider damaged liturgical items as lost to the sands of time, whether it is threaded antique vestments or damaged sculptures and so on. The reality, however, is that liturgical artists and conservationists do exist who can potentially repair such items.…

A Hand Carved, Wooden Altar Cross from ALBL Oberammergau

A Hand Carved, Wooden Altar Cross from ALBL Oberammergau If you take a look at the altar cross which is the subject of this particular article, you will no doubt begin by thinking, "what a beautiful piece of metalwork" however, the assumption that this is a work done in metal, while understandable, would actually be inc…

Churches of Latin America: Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, Peru

Churches of Latin America: Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, Peru Today we begin our first instalment of our consideration of the Churches of Latin America with the Basilica and Convent of St. Francis in Lima, Peru. The first structure on this site, dated to the 16th century, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1655, and so construction beg…

1940's Crosier of Bishop James J. Byrne, S.T.D.

1940's Crosier of Bishop James J. Byrne, S.T.D. A simple contemporary crosier, symbolic of the shepherd's crook.  Today it is part of the treasury of the Cathedral of Dubuque, Iowa.  It was the crosier given to Bishop James J. Byrne, S.T.D. when he was consecrated bishop on July 2, 1947 in the Cathedral of St. Paul i…

New Traditional Church Architecture in Spain

New Traditional Church Architecture in Spain The Diocese of Alcalá de Henares, just outside of Madrid, approved last week the construction of a new Church for the Parish of St Theresa of Avila. Established a decade ago to serve the growing community in a newly developed neighborhood, the Parish has been housed in ve…

Liturgical and Historical Notes on the Ancient Observance of Octaves

Liturgical and Historical Notes on the Ancient Observance of Octaves The matter of octaves are one of the liturgical reforms of the 20th century that frequently get a lot of attention from those interested in the subject of 20th century liturgical reform. Opinions range from those who believe the octave reforms were justified (with the possi…