Friday, 7 December 2012

What do you get if you ask a communist atheist to build a cathedral?


Q. What do you get if you ask a communist atheist to build a cathedral?

A. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida in Brasilia.

The late Oscar Niemeyer designed it and the foundation stone was laid in 1958, although I think it only opened in 1970.  It is thought to be quite influential and I'm sure you may be able to think of other churches and cathedrals where this baleful influence is to be seen.  It is unusual - perhaps even interesting - but is summons up some great secular and somehow temporary event space.  What seems tragic to me is the abandonment of centuries of Christian models, hallowed as they are by being used for prayer and liturgy and therefore molded to become suitable to it, for a model "invented" by someone with no Christian instincts, in fact, someone whose life views have been inimical to Christianity.

What such churches have is certainly celebrity value - they stick in the mind.  Not because they are beautiful but because they are strange, odd, peculiar   They speak about themselves instead of their purpose.

I hope that it is just this sort of thing that Abbot Michael Zielinski, who leads a new office on liturgical arts at the Congregation for Divine Worship, has been chosen to do something about.

Before someone points it out, I note that the plans come from before the time of the Second Vatican Council. But, as others have noted, the revolutionary views that exploded through the Church after the Council - claiming to act in its name and spirit - did not spring from nowhere, they were already making themselves felt in the Church.  I believe Pope Pius X had noticed them.


17 comments:

Lynda said...

There is nothing about this building which speaks of God and his revelation, or the liturgy of His Church. It doesn't conduce to reverence or worship.

Sixupman said...

Lynda:

That also applies to 're-ordered' churches!

Et Expecto said...

It sounded very noieey to me. Not right for prayer.

Patricius said...

"I note that the plans come from before the time of the Second Vatican Council"

This is very interesting indeed, Father. The building of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Liverpool was begun in 1962- over a year before the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. How could that be expressing the "spirit of the Council"? A while ago it occurred to me that Sacrosanctum Concilium could be read in part as an attempt by the Council Fathers to put the brakes on some of the ideas being promoted at the time by liturgical experts. This may be seen, for instance, in the concern to preserve Latin even before any vernacular translations had been introduced. It may also account for the consternation subsequently expressed by contemporary commentators (and participants!) like Cardinal Heenan.

Matthew Roth said...

Is it wrong to wish that these churches be blown up? And indeed, the whole town of Brasilia, as it is a manifestation of an odd mix of Marxism and contemporary philosophy on art? Of course we'd de-consecrate the churches first...

Marion (Mael Muire) said...

On the video, you can hear serious reverberation of even the smallest murmur from visitors, throughout the space. Acoustics for homilies and hymns must be a nightmare in that place. Yikes!

Nancy Danielson said...

Why the disturbing, rather than a Joyful Resurrection sculpture at The Paul VI Auditorium? Whose first reaction would not be to flee from, rather than move towards?

Anonymous said...

A great book on this subject is "Ugly as Sin" by Michael Rose.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the spaceship Padre Pio Shrine in San Giovanni for his pilgrims? I think they only recently added an actual Crucifix at the front of the church. I'm quite certain Padre Pio is NOT pleased.

Gina said...

Can you say, "hideous?"

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely horrible. It looks to me like some kind of stadium suitable for rock concerts or for expositions of some sort. All sense of the sacred is totally absent. It should be demolished.

poetcomic1 said...

It is Enlightenment personified, a flood of naked light, harsh, unforgiving, no shadows, no tender dark recesses for the penitent and prodigal to linger. It is the 'sensual flooding' of aggressive light not the 'breaking' of day or the perpetual twilight of the ancient places where the heart lives. It is HELL on earth. Do I give you the impression I don't like it?

Anonymous said...

sounds like, and looks like, an attraction on Sea World. Quite sad that the faithful have given their money for this.

David Wood said...

Because the plans for the Vatican II were in the works decades before it even happened. Might as well get a jump start on the new things before they become new things.

Side note: why in the world would someone from the 50's ask an athiest to design something for someone they don't believe in?

David Wood said...

Because the plans for Vatican II were in the works decades before the start of the council. But why would the Catholic Church ask an athiest to build a house of worship for someone they don't believe in? This is the kind of crap that you get. Same thing can be said about the churches we build now that baptists design, they have no concept of what heaven is suppose to look like.

Michael Furtaw said...

This type of architecture is more appropriate for museums, not a church. When designing a church, one needs to take in consideration the longevity of the design. Trendy "modern" designs will go out of style with twenty or so years. As this church may have once spoke "modern", it today makes you think of Logan’s Run.

David O'Neill said...

As has been said it rembles (in awfulness) the Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.

 

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