Wednesday, September 13, 2006

St. Paul the Apostle NYC: I

Here's some pictures from the church tour yesterday. It's a gorgeous church! [Photo looking down the nave was posted a few months ago.] Apparently, when it was designed, Fr. Hecker wanted it to be at least 60 feet wide (which is the width of Westminster Cathedral in England. Why this was a benchmark, I've no idea!) and the interior was to be dark. The ceiling was painted a midnight blue and one of Fr. Hecker's companions, an astronomer, painted the constellations and stars as they would have been seen in the night sky of the day in 1858 when the church was planned (I belive it was dedicated in 1885, three years before Fr. Hecker died). Fr. Hecker thought darkness was more spiritual and conducive to prayer, hence no side windows. When the church was renovated in 1958 for the 100th anniversary of the Society, the sides were painted a dull gray. The current color scheme dates from the 1993 renovation (when the midnight blue was made a sky blue ... !). The interior isn't that dark anymore.

There's an amazing amount of art in here (pictures of some will find their way on here eventually. I don't have my notes with me and I can't recall any of the artists namees!)


Frieze from the bottom of the tomb of Fr. Isaac Hecker (done in that ubiquitious 1950s style which I call, "Communist: Workers of the World Unite!" :)). From left to right:

  • The young Isaac is greivously ill but tells his mother God still has a plan for him.

  • Isaac Hecker working in the family bakery.

  • As a novice in the Congregation of the Redeemer (the Redemptorists): the story goes that he found it incredibly difficult to study because his heart and his mind were preoccupied with prayer. He actually got dispensation from formal classes and permission to study on his own outside class! ["Y'all don't try that!"

  • A dejected Hecker upon his expulsion from the Congregation.

  • Preaching missions in his new Society.


Tablet at the front of the nave, depicting Athens and the words of St. Paul's sermon in the Areopagus.


Tablet at the other end of the nave, near the sanctuary, with the Sword, the symbol of St. Paul, and the words, "Preacher of truth to the whole world."


One of the side altars which used to be a Privileged Altar (saying a Mass for the Dead got a perpetual indulgence). The sculpture is a depiction of Purgatory based on the writings of St. Catherine of Genoa (one of the saints admired immensely by Fr. Hecker), while the central piece is a modern depiction of Christ at the moment of the Resurrection. [Or, as one wag remarked, "Jesus coming through the shower curtain!"]

More as I get time! Posted by Picasa
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