An Introduction to the Cosmati and Cosmatesque Ornament

An Introduction to the Cosmati and Cosmatesque Ornament Anyone who follows liturgical and ecclesiastical arts will invariably, at some point, come across the term "cosmatesque," but to what does this refer?  Cosmatesque is also referred to as "Cosmati" which is actually a family name.  The Cosmati family were…

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…