The Oratorian Church of Santo Tomas y de San Felipe Neri in Valencia, Spain

Perhaps due to an overabundance of greyish or creamish hued gothic revival structures that are found in many part of the English speaking world (not to mention the cool, clinical tones of modernistic churches), I always find myself drawn with a great deal more interest to facades which incorporate a bit of colour to them, such as this facade, found on the church of Santa Tomas y San Felipe Neri in Valencia, Spain. Of course, travel throughout other parts of the Mediterranean world and one find all sorts of comparable structures -- and, by extension, into the colonial new world of the Spanish and Portugese missions in Latin America.

These colourful facades -- in this instance brick coloured in a reddish-rose hue -- have a way of engaging the viewer, drawing one in and inviting them at the same time. In the instance of this particular church -- which belongs to members of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri -- it was built in the first half of the 18th century and is, as such, a manifestation of the baroque, designed by  architect and mathematician, Fr. Tomás Vicente Tosca.

If one sees the church and thinks that it reminds them of many Roman churches this is no accident and it was baroque Rome that served as an influence for the design, specifically the Gesú.  

Located immediately above the main entrance to the church is medallion with a sculptural relief depicting the apparition of the Virgin to St. Philip Neri.  To either side are allegorical figures depicting Virginity and Prayer.

The allegorical figure of "Virginitas"

Located above this is a Marian anagram crushing a serpent -- thereby symbolizing victory of the devil.

Eight sculptural figures also adorn the facade: St. Francis de Sales and St. Charles Borromeo are located nearest the entrance. Above them are found St. Gregory the Great, St. Jerome, St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Stephen. Finally, found at the very top are sculptures of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. 

While the exterior of the church is the primary focus here, I am sure our readers would appreciate some glimpses of the interior as well.

The high altar reredos features an image of St. Thomas the Apostle

St. Joseph's Altar

Side altar of the Virgin

Located down the length of the nave are a series of smaller side chapels. 

They all have a rather similar feel, so here is just one of them:

With that, we will conclude our brief tour. Certainly a church that does what church art and architecture should: drawing one's attention, then one's heart and mind. 

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