Thursday, January 30, 2014

Texan Romanesque

The Rad Trad has long maintained that the construction of new churches would best be done along the lines of the Romanesque style which emerged early in the Christian age and continued until the dominance of the gothic style during the high Middle Ages.

Why Romanesque? It is classically Roman and immediately identifiable with Catholicism. It is not as expensive and difficult to build as gothic. It does not require the specialization of baroque. And it can be augmented over time by emendations of any style (icons, statues, baroque paintings, Roman frescoes, mosaics, it all works). 

A local church, relatively new, seems to have anticipated the Rad Trad's advice. The church is enormous by modern standards (seats 1,900 and there are seven Sunday Masses). The diocese built the church anticipating its use by the Hispanic community, which tends to mean a more modest collection plate. Hence the Romanesque style was very fitting: lovely and not too expensive. Then the area's growth took off and so did Mass attendance. They collect $65,000 per week (not a typo) and have started to expand the church by adding stations of the Cross and stained glass. The church is well conceived, a pity the priests in residence do not see its liturgical potential (everything it nice but the sanctuary). The only thing missing architecturally is a confessional or two, but confession is done in another building. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a chapel.


  1. This seems to fall into the NLM's category of "the other modern".

  2. The roof does not work IMHO. It would look better without the internal spanning. I suspect the architect was trying to maximise space by not having arcades/pillars between the aisles and the nave. But Romanesque certainly does work in modern building. Gothic simply looks clumsy, one but thinks of so much Victorian Gothick revival. There are certainly exceptions to that generalisation, St. Giles at Cheadle and St. Cyprians, Clarence Gate, London but in both cases they were the product of the cream of architects and very expensive.

    1. I think straight crossbeams, as per the genuine Romanesque style, could have worked well had it occurred to the designers. Gothic looks very bulbous and awkward if not done right, and doing it right, as you said, was expensive 150 years ago and will be even more expensive now with the lack of specialized artisans.