Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

The World's Most Beautiful Churches

St. Luke's Church.
The ur-church. In my brain next to "church", this will always be the picture I'll see. The inside walls are bare red brick; the roof and the pews are plain wood. The stained glass windows are melees of rainbow color in abstract almost-patterns, except for the beautiful "Mothers' Window" over the choir loft. The tabernacle is right behind the altar (the logical place). I think I finally got used to the "new crucifix", which was actually the "old crucifix" hauled down out of storage, where it had been since the Nixon administration. I never did get used to the two-tone Mary, Joseph and Jesus statues getting colored in by some artist, though thankfully she was made to repaint Mary as a brunette after her first effort was (ugh!) a blonde, blue-eyed, and pink-lipped Aryan Barbie. I also never got used to the new Mary statue in the grotto (behind and below the bell tower, between the church and the hill), although it really is nice. My brother's Eagle project was the really cool cross-shaped garden in front of the church. All in all, this is the most beautiful church in the world. Though I'll admit there may be a few which are almost as good. :)

My current parish doesn't have a picture of the church up on the website, alas. It looks like a New England Congregational church from the mid-1800's -- three pillars in front, a spire on top, and painted white. I learned during our recent renovations that the altar area was originally painted in blue and gold diamonds, but these were painted over in white thanks to the high maintenance. And okay, they were a bit emphatic, but I'm in the SCA and I like an interior that's chequy azure and or. :) When the church was expanded, a chapel was built behind the altar; there's a movable wall, so that Mass can be celebrated with only one side open or both. The crucifix is two-sided and hangs right in the middle above the altar. Really nice. Finally, the new stained glass windows (replacing plain glass) add wonderful color and life to the church, as do the newly cleaned German turn-of-the-century Stations of the Cross. The only downside to this church is that the relatively low and flat ceilings don't give good acoustics. But the organ's good. The second-best church in the world. Come when Father Manning or Father Frank are celebrants.

Ascension for a large part of my childhood was a bomb shelter underground. Now it has a surface presence. Granted, it's round and not all that gorgeous. But believe me, it's prettier than cinderblock, concrete, and thoughts of nuclear war.

Holy Angels is one of the many churches in Dayton built during the 20's and 30's. They're made from concrete, basically. But that's okay, because they're shaped well, have nice stained glass, and are painted with gorgeous wall and altar paintings! The acoustics are a little too good.

UD Chapel is purty. It looks like some kind of little Austrian church built during the baroque period. But I wish they'd kept the altar table up on the dais and shelled out for a decent sound system, because the way they have things now, with the altar on the long side, looks stupid. Pews instead of chairs would also be nice. Still and all, this is the home of the 10 PM Sunday Mass! What a lifesaver!

Holy Trinity looks very German immigrant. Inside, the funky electric-light heart-shaped "candle" rings reveal that a lot of the parish is now made up of Latin American immigrants. (1:00 Mass on Sundays is in panish. I recommend it if you know the language.) A small but very alive parish with a wonderful festival (mm, cabbage rolls!).

Immaculate Conception was supposed to be the cathedral if Dayton ever got to be an archdiocese. Very beautiful and big. Huuuuge church festival. They should make the raffle part of the state lottery.

St. Joseph and St. Mary don't have websites. This is wrong, particularly since St. Joe's is where you go if you need a 6 PM Sunday Mass. Very conservative parish, but the churchgoers are all over the map thanks to the great Mass time. The acoustics ring way too much, thanks to the lovely Roman basilica shape and green marble (okay, faux marble, but I never would've guessed it till I read the church history) pillars. The most beautiful wall paintings in Dayton, and very nice stained glass, particularly the three archangels right over the altarpiece. St. Mary's I don't remember much about (I've only gone there once), but its twin bell towers and bronze dome are beloved landmarks and very visible from the highway.

More beautiful churches I've visited:

Church of the Blessed Sacrament
, Hollywood CA. It's two blocks behind the main drag. I found it by following the sound of the noon bell. The parochial school was a dead giveaway, and finding Mass about to start was a bonus. :) Look, Jesuits!

St. Bridget of Sweden, Van Nuys CA. (No website, alas.) It had one of those really nice California exteriors with a shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a lot of nice statues, including Bridget wearing one of those Brigittine habits with the flames on. Cooool.

I can't remember the name of the church in Burbank I went to back in 1999, at the first JAG convention. It was up on a hill, I know that, and we had a heckuva time finding it. It might have been St. Finbar's, or it might have been St. Francis Xavier's.

St. Brendan's in Hilliard is the closest church to the current OVFF hotel. Very proud of its Irish heritage, very big, very crowded. Nice interior from what I saw.

St. Joseph's Cathedral in downtown Columbus has a very convenient noon Mass I go to on Marcon Fridays.

St. Patrick's
is a block or two past the Ohio Center, so this is where I spend my Marcon Sunday morning. Look, Dominicans!

All churches are beautiful when God is there. But these ones are especially nice.


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