Modern vs Traditional Church Architecture


What do you prefer? And why? Do you think one style over the other is more suitable for the Liturgy? Do you find it to be a matter of indifference?

I ask because I recently compared the Basilica in Guadalupe on my blog, you can see the post with pics HERE, and I admitting am no fan of the new structure, which in some ways symbolizes the (IMHO) decline in church architecture mid-century.

Which leaves me wondering, does anyone out there actually like modern church architecture and if so did they all “come of age” before 1980?




Good one.


My favourite architectural styles are:
Gothic and Baroque have to be my absolute top choices though. They are somewhat opposed, but each have their own charm. My parish is a Romanesque church. :slight_smile:

There are multiple reasons I like those two styles. I love Gothic architecture because it takes me back to the ages of old in mind. It gives you that sense of “This is how many Saints and faithful worshipped long ago”, as though you are right among them. They are a beautiful reminder of how old our Church is and that there is continuity. At the same time, the Gothic architecture is very ordered, structured and thus hints at the Divine Mind, that God is a God of order and beauty. And, boy, the massive stained glass windows and the light! Gothic architecture is all about the Divine Light. With its emphasis on height, it causes the pilgrim to look upward as well.

I love Baroque churches because of their sheer opulence. In my view, there is never too much splendour for God. Baroque combines Classical architecture with grandeur.

The two styles of Gothic and Baroque are somewhat different in essence, I find. Gothic churches tend to seem much emptier than Baroque ones. The latter only makes sense with lots of art and statues, while the Gothic building (on the inside, the outside is a totally different matter) has a lot less. There’s decorum alright, but not in the Baroque way.

I will attach a few pictures of some examples of what I love. :slight_smile:

By the way, for fantastic images of French Gothic churches, go to On the top left you can access a map of all of France’s Gothic churches with thousands of high-resolution photographs. While you’re at it, but on some Gregorian chant like this and indulge in them:


Catholic churches got so ugly that I often joke church architecture is one part where Protestants won the Reformation. :smiley: (Some of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen were Lutheran and Anglican) I’m a big fan of traditional church architecture.


OK, I’ll bite.

I’m not so worked up about Architecture…per se. I do get disappointed when the Church appointments within are less than inspiring. Being a musician and artist myself, and being educated among people with a myriad of talents and artistic output, I see value in various forms of expression.
Outside of that…I feel strongly that there are certain “must-haves” with regard to church furnishings. For example, no stained glass that is not of the best quality, there should be some statues…, the Stations should be of excellent quality and not just numbers on a rock, things like this. The things that inspire and encourage quiet reflection. Sometimes, when we are at our lowest, it is these “things” inside of the sanctuary that comfort us, and help us to remember that we are with God.
When a modern church is virtually devoid of these classical items of our faith, I find it hard to concentrate. I find it puzzling, and in truth, distracting in an odd sort of way. But the outside of the structure? And the setting of the altar, and places for reconciliation don’t bother me all that much. It’s what happens there that is most important to me. :wink:

I will say though, we need to go BACK to choir lofts. Just sayin…

PS: my church is fairly modern and I will say elegant on the inside, but it is very plain. People remark on the peaceful, serene look of not having it packed with items. But I do wish we had a Statue of our Patron or Mary & Joseph. Wish I could post up a picture.
That option never works fro me. :frowning:


Yes, I actually like some modern church architecture (not all) and actually dislike certain types of traditional church architecture, such as Baroque and Gothic. I was born in 1948, so I’ve been around a while.

Also, I want to make something clear–if my faith actually depended on the architecture of the church I was worshipping in, I would seriously examine what is lacking in my faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, I don’t consider architecture all that important in my faith life.


I prefer the older styles (i.e. medieval), but don’t really think the architecture matters in regards to the Mass.


I find it interesting that you both like modern church architecture and are indifferent in general to the classical purposes of church architecture. I wonder if that is a consistent theme across the board with other modern architecture fans :hmmm:


Perhaps one could speak of it as of a painting: The Mass is the painting, and the architecture is the frame. A beautiful painting deserves a matching and worthy frame. :shrug:




If I may, I’ll speak of all Churches…

There were two Congregational Churches in my town. One ended up being sold to a nondenominational Church. They kept the integrity of the outer structure, which looks like a mini Notre Dame.
But the inner structure was :mad: ripped apart into oblivion. The alter was replaced with a jumbo screen and a tiny pulpit. Back seating was ripped out for a sound system.

The other church was waning in its congregation but hated to give it up entirely.
So they came up with a fabulous idea.
They sold it to a housing aid business with the stipulation that there be NO alterations, in or out. The congregation moved to a large room and can still use the main church for high holidays. It remains a beautiful church,

I can’t put my finger on why the destruction of old but structurally sound Churches of all denominations bugs me. Buildings today can be made so quickly and with many more tools and equipment than churches and other buildings were back in the day. Sweat and toil of another kind, and all in the name of our Father, for the churches. Gone. Sad.

But the Catholic Cathedral was saved!!! It was to be torn down but instead is protected and saved from ruin.
Yea!! It is a gorgeous Church. If I had the money…It just needs a little cosmetic work.
And a window…

And amongst the newer structures, some are quite beautiful. But for me, there’s just something about the old ones…


I doubt this will be of much help (as I even admit it defies any discrete definition), but I prefer churches that look like churches. Whether modern or tradition, as long as I can tell by passing by them (without reading any signs) that they are indeed churches. I’m not very fond of church buildings that look like circus tents, auditoriums, or business edifices.

Now, I graciously admit that I can’t quite explain what makes a church “look like a church”. It’s just one of those things that you recognize upon experience. It’s almost like a quale of sorts. :slight_smile:


See your :popcorn: and raise you :popcorn:. :smiley:




Once in a while there is a Baptist chruch with stain glass windows and, on the outside, looks more like an older Catholic church then some of the modern Catholic churchs do! :stuck_out_tongue: :slight_smile:


This. Your average happy-slappy, Jesus-people, dominant-seventh playing Baptist megachurch has completely liberty to look like an auditorium because you sit, listen to a man preach, nod accordingly and go home. I don’t know how some Catholic parishes got to be the same in terms of design, but it’s sad.


You have misinterpreted me. I do not like ALL modern architecture, you would hardly call me a fan, and I do not dislike ALL traditional architecture, there are many beautiful traditional churches around here that I like. I have seen some ugly (to me) modern churches with weird-looking statuary and paintings, and others are beautiful with their use of light, simple but elegant furnishings, restful colors, placement of the altar, etc. On the other side, I find gothic and baroque architecture too busy and too distracting. There is too much going on for my tastes, I can’t take it in. But the subject is not that important to my faith life, although I love and appreciate art.

Any “indifference” you may perceive is to the effect a building has on my faith. I am more interested in a person-Jesus Christ. There is nothing abnormal or unusual about that.


Dude, drink water. You’re going to choke yourself on popcorn.




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