Before and After: St. Joseph's Church in Ohio

Recently I came across another project which fits within our particularly popular "Before and After" series, this time coming from St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ohio.  The project was executed by Fynders Keepers Brokerage based out of Stilwell, Kansas and involved the fabrication of a new high altar that was based on photos of the historical high altar that had been located in the sanctuary of the church prior to its renovation -- presumably sometime in the 1970's.  In addition to the new high altar and reredos -- which is constructed of marble, oak and walnut -- they also built a matching ambo and freestanding altar along with "custom hand carved statues and reliefs... fabricated in Italy."

If you take a look at the 'before' we see a typical post-conciliar style sanctuary ordering -- with the one exception being the central placement of the tabernacle which may well have been a later revision after the 1970's.


As one can see,. the high altar had been removed, a new forward altar had been installed; the sedilia had been re-located and put on an angle behind, the side altars were also removed, and the sanctuary floor itself rounded with its altar rails removed. In addition, some of the painted work in the apse had also been modified. 

So what did it look like before this? Here is a historical photograph which shows the original sanctuary of the church.

Turning our attention back to what has now been put in place, as noted earlier, the newly renovated sanctuary was based upon this photo and a purposeful attempt was made to put back into place something similar to this. Here then is what they came up with.


One can see how the new reredos was based upon (but not strictly identical to) the original high altar found in the church. A closer look at it:

A closer look too at the newly carved statuary that has been placed within the niches of the reredos.

Finally, a better look at the freestanding altar and ambo that was installed. 

Evidently this site has frequently laid out the benefits of a classical sanctuary ordering and also only just recently noted the benefits for which a reredos adds to a church and its sanctuary. While in many places a full restoration of the classical ordering may not yet be (politically) possible, great strides can yet be made back toward this. Certainly this is one such example of this and the new renovated sanctuary has given this church a renewed focus. 

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