Disjunctions between contemporary Catholic architecture and the liturgical and representational needs of the Church often reflect conflict between the client’s sacred concerns and architecture’s secular culture, or divergence between the architectural needs of other denominations and those specific to Catholicism. But historically this was not always the case.
Growing up Catholic in South Jersey put me in a demographic with thousands of other kids. Both of my parents were raised in Philadelphia, and because we had a large extended family close to us in both the city and the suburbs, I got to see many Catholic parishes.
Space is not homogeneous. Thus Mircea Eliade begins his classic discussion of sacred space. Sacred space is structured and differentiated and thus represents order and purpose; in this, it is distinguished from profane space, which is unstructured and represents chaos.
Notre Dame l’Assomption served as the cathedral of Port-au-Prince for over a century, from its predecessor, a modest yet dignified brick building with a small central tower, to its twentieth-century replacement, an impressive twin towered structure which collapsed in the devastating 2010 earthquake centered near Port-au-Prince.
There is a tradition of woodcarving in my birthplace that includes some of my favorite examples of church architecture. I come from England’s “West Country” and lived in the small village of Milverton in Somerset.