The 'New Springtime'? -- Green Shoots of Life In the Churches, But Not of the Sort Predicted (Or: Some Abandoned Churches of Italy)

There is something both sad and poignant about abandoned churches. While churchmen in the 1960's and 1970's confidently predicted (in retrospect, naively so) a "new springtime for the Church" resulting from modernizations, in reality what we have seen take place has been on ongoing decline in the numbers of practicing Catholics, vocations and so on. It has reached to such an extent that we now see numerous Catholic parishes, convents, monasteries, seminaries and institutions sold off, converted to other purposes or, in some cases, simply abandoned and left to decay.  It is sad for certain, but poignant? How so? It is poignant insofar as these are part of the 'signs of the times.' They are indicators and pointers of an institution which is struggling in some regard and, as we all know, the first step toward healing and revitalization is first acknowledging the existence of a problem that needs to be addressed. 

Photographer Roman Robroek, a Dutch photographer specializing in abandoned buildings, has a series of compelling photos of some of the abandoned churches found in Italy. At one and the same time, you'll no doubt find them both oddly appealing (insofar as you'll see the beauty of the architecture integrated with the beauty of natural greenery) and also saddening, even scandalous -- as for example the instance of a chapel whose tombs were dug up at some point, the bones of the deceased left haphazardly strewn about what was the nave. 

We offer them for whatever they night be worth -- and what they are worth, to my mind, is that they point to the need to for individual as well as institutional self-reflection: Quo Vaids?

Note the bones

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