Church Competition

On the top is the a building in Tuscany, Italy. Below it is a building in Middlesborough, England.

I am running a competition to see which building readers think is a Catholic Church, and which one they think might be a dentist’s office.

Here’s an article I wrote for Touchstone Magazine some time ago about ugly modern English Catholic churches.

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  • Judging by what looks like a cross on the top of the building in the English picture, I’d be inclined to go with that as the church.

  • It is almost infallible by modern standards that the ugliest structure would be a Catholic Church.

  • I’d rather say which one *ought* to be the church.Here in LA we refer to our cathedral as “Our Lady of the Borg”, or else “The Jawa Sandcrawler”.

  • A friend of mine was in LA just after the Rog-Mahal opened, and of that strange building he said this: “It looks like the box a cathedral would come in.”Two different sources of grief combine in modern church architecture to create truly ghastly “worship centers”1. The acceptance by most architects of the sundry falsehoods embedded in modernism of every kind.2. The acceptance by most churchmen of the falsehood that the church is a gathering place in which the congregation celebrates the fact that it is gathered. This foolishness leads to the “church on the half shell” arrangement in which the paramount concern is everyone in the building should be able to see everyone else in the building. This is solipsism, not religion, that it is why it is almost impossible to pray in those places.

  • In addition to the faults Fr Newman outlines, many of the modern buildings are done on the cheap with poor materials, mass produced furniture and fittings. It all looks like what it is: cheap and nasty.

  • The new issue of Lay Witness, a Catholics United for the Faith magazine, has a great article on this subject. That English church building is so much more beautiful than 80% of Catholic Church buildings in America. At least they stuck some brick on the outside. Sheesh.

  • “cheap and nasty”whoa, now, I thought I had the patent on calling buildings “nasty.”

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t a trick question where the building in Italy turns out to be the dentist office, right? I really hate those.Wait this is a trick question. Arrrgh, i have a headache.I really enjoy your blog though, Father.

  • I fear it was not a trick question. It was something called sarcasm.

  • Rob C.

    I have often threatened to host a web contest of my own called “The Ugliest Church In Christendom”.

  • blarg

    Tuscany–geez–watch out for the cow pies as you walk into church.

  • Anonymous

    If you like uplifting architecture and things Benedictine, Father, how about this. . .

  • Anonymous

    Tuscany, hands down!! The other bldg. looks like — a warehouse with a cross on the roof. With all the wonderful churches andabbey (ruins) in the UK, can’t someone come up with a decent modern version! This is a job for the Prince of Wales — well, not really, but HRH is known as a foe of empty, ugly modern architecture. Any road, as they say in Yorkshire, it’s ugly, ee by goom!

  • Anonymous

    The one on the bottom looks my my church built with brick rather than plywood.

  • jim G

    My family have decided that ‘car sales show-room’ best describes many new Catholic Churches such as the one you have pictured. But if you read the architectural manuals containing the idealogical thoughts behind these modernist designs it is quite starling to find that it is no accident that these places do not look like sacred spaces – I read on such a while ago and the whole bent of the book was to draw away from the idea of the Church as the living body of Our Lord – the Narthex, the Nave(the body), the trancepts (arms), Sanctuary and choir (head), the raised pulpit for the Gospel (where His heart would be), and the seven Pillars. It is high time we demanded a fuller beauty.

  • At least Middlesborough Cathedral has a little colour in it – more than can be said about the horrid cathedral at Clifton.I’m hoping that when the Anglicans come home, they manage to bring all their wonderful Comper churches and the odd medieval cathedral too! 😉