Why has the Church changed its architecture?

Ascending into the light…

Yes we are indeed from the Solesmes Congregation! The abbey was designed by three distinct architects: the monks’ wing was designed by Dom Paul Bellot. He eventually relocated to our abbey in 1937 (when it was still a priory). The guesthouse was designed by Dom Claude-Marie Côté, a disciple of Dom Bellot, and the church and new wing of the monk’s cloister was designed by Dan Hanganu.

Here is the new monk’s cloister. As the main outside wall faces south, it is flooded with light on sunny days


Very nice!
Yes, it doesn’t have to be an altar rail. Iconostasis, rood screen, grille… I just appreciate the symbolism of some sort of division between the nave and sanctuary.

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For the congregation’s area, perhaps.

For the Holy Place, time results in a stunning accumulations of burn marks, melt spots, and patches from escaping coals . . . western practice with the thurible is gentler than the jerking of the byzantine censor, thus less hot coal, but it still must accumulate.

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I never thought of that aspect…but in general I just don’t like the aesthetic of carpet in the sanctuary. For that matter, I don’t like it in the nave. Tile / marble floors throughout otherwise it doesn’t feel like a proper temple / church to me!

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one of the few certainties when we build our new church is that we won’t have carpet in the Holy Place.

Right now, we can’t even bow without seeing several burns and melts !

:crazy_face: :roll_eyes:

There’s another important aspect to consider. As a huge fan of Gregorian chant who has chanted in many parish churches, I can say this: carpet, and to a lesser extent wood floor coverings kill acoustics. It’s why in my oratory, I put in a granite floor, almost identical in look and pattern to the abbey’s (my inspiration was our Blessed Sacrament chapel). It’s sooo much easier on the voice, much less work getting the sound out to the nave! Or in the case of my oratory, just back to my ears.

I can’t even stand carpet in a house. We have a heavy–duty one in our basement family room, and between hot coals flying out of the wood stove when stoking it (burn marks like dochawk mentions), and cats upchucking hairballs, it has gotten quite gross. I never seem to be able to get it clean, and the burn marks are permanent (all around the wood stove in spite of granite tiles under the stove; hot embers are like the coronavirus, they require a 2-metre safety zone…)


I too hate carpet I have five children…

I asked my Ukrainian Catholic Priest once about carpet what they do if they spill the chalice God forbid.

He stated that typically the carpet is cut out and burned and that carpet doesn’t do well with their tradition.

I’m surprised most Roman Catholic Churches don’t go the route of tile or even stained cement.

The parish I was baptized and grew up in one of the first pictures posted has red carpet I’m pretty sure it’s the same carpet that was from my childhood and teenage years which is quite old considering I’m almost 33.

It has gum stuck to it in black stained spots… :grimacing:


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Not crazy about the other pictures (aside from the representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is always good), but that first picture is beautiful. Never saw anything quite like it before. Where is this located?

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Fresno California St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.

Church architecture is theology in stone. This fact is well understood by ecclesiastical architects. They are not just building a shelter for worship based on practical considerations, they are delivering a message to all who enter.

The mediaeval cathedral builders made this especially clear. Take Metz Cathedral near where I live. You enter at the west door, above which is a representation of the Last Judgement inviting you to think about your life and where it is leading. You go in and close by is the baptismal font where you began your spiritual life. The windows are stained in cool colours. You look down the aisle which leads you on a walk towards the high altar where the tabernacle is situated. The light grows warmer as you get nearer and nearer to Jesus’s body, surrounded on all sides by the images of the saints who help you on your way …

Except that you don’t any more. A stonking great modern altar has been plonked two thirds up the aisle. As if that were not sufficient to ruin the message, the Blessed Sacrament has been moved to a side chapel.


Where it’s been in many cathedrals since before the council, and was recommended to be (or at another altar) in some cases, even before the council.

Apparently, you aren’t familiar with the original layout of the cathedral. Your ideas about the architecture of Gothic churches are a bit anachronistic,

About two thirds up the aisle, there would have been a stonking great impenetrable chancel screen which would have almost totally obscured the view of the high altar, as well as of the whole chancel, both sanctuary and quire. The laity could neither see or hear anything going on in the sanctuary, and might only catch the muffled chanting of the canons in the quire. Everything was hidden from them, except perhaps the elevation, if they jostled and were lucky.

There was no tabernacle to be seen. It was off to the side somewhere, and not for show. The idea of placing the tabernacle on the high altar was a Jesuit innovation from about the time of Trent, when chancel screens fell out of favor and the high altar could finally be seen by the laity. For the first time since the cathedral was built. Even then, tabernacles were not always placed on the high altar.


Here’s what Leon Levavasseur’s Ceremonial 1935 edition had to say about where the Blessed Sacrament is to be reserved (my translation from the French):

  1. It is required that habitually or continuously the Blessed Sacrament be reserved at only one altar in the same church, be it a cathedral or parish church.

  2. Regularly the Blessed Sacrament should be reserved on the High Altar, being the most noble and honourable altar, unless another altar would seem preferable for the veneration and cult due to this august Sacrament. However, in cathedral, college and conventual churches where choral functions take place at the High Altar, it is preferable to reserve the Blessed Sacrament at an altar other than the High Altar.

  3. The altar of the Blessed Sacrament must by more carefully decorated than other altars in the church in order foster piety and devotion among the faithful.

So even in 1935, there is nothing that obliged the Tabernacle to be on the High Altar (i.e front-and-centre) in the church, indeed exception was allowed even in regular churches, and strongly recommended in cathedrals and conventual and college chapels where choral offices took place.

So can we put to rest the notion that somehow Vatican II is responsible for Tabernacles being placed in other locations? I’ve been in many churches with our choir, and many of them still have the tabernacle front-and-center (some even on the old high altars), and most at least have it easily visible in the nave at a side altar. Even one modern church I visit regularly (our choir’s home base), build in the mid-60s, has the tabernacle at the main altar where it has remained since the church was built.

And yet… in 1935 it was considered perfectly acceptable to have the tabernacle in a side chapel, and in some cases even encouraged. Which is why in many Benedictine monasteries the Tabernacle is in a side chapel, since even before the Council.

Nothing to see here folks, time to move on

That is true for Orthodox as well. I’ve heard of priests cutting out sections of wooden floors to burn them. One bishop told his seminarians, “put down a small rug at the Communion spot, so if anything goes wrong, you can just burn the rug.”


Hope this goes. I’ve never posted a picture here before. It’s St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Lots of intricately carved white marble. I love it.


Regarding the original question – why has the Church changed its architecture? Why has it changed its liturgy? Its theological emphases? So many things?
That’s the $64,000 question isn’t it, why is the Church so different in so may ways pre-1965 and post-1965?

Could you please elaborate? Just so I can compare it with the views of our Catholic order.


St.John’s wooden altar is said to be the wooden table that St. Peter himself used in Masses.

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Hi, I wasn’t referring to authentic Franciscan spirituality. I further addressed what I meant here:

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