Traditional Churches are a Sermon in Stone

Fr Charles Pope writes here on the beauty and strength of traditional church architecture.

Catholics have often endured the charge that we are an unbiblical Church. Strange accusation, really, for the Church that collected the Scriptures, determined the canon of Scripture and preached it for 1,500 years before there ever was a Protestant denomination. The fact is we are quite biblical and often in ways that are stunningly powerful.

For the Church, the Scriptures are more than merely ink spots on a page. The Scriptures are manifest and proclaimed in how we live, how we are organized hierarchically, our sacraments, our liturgy and even in our buildings.

Long before most people could read, the Church was preaching the Gospel. And to do so, she used the very structure of her buildings to preach. Many of our older builds are a sermon in stone and stained glass.

 Go here for one of my own posts on church architecture.

  • Will

    There are traditional churches and modern churches that I like. I can feel the love of God in both. I have also been in traditional and modern churches that needed help.

  • Augustine

    I’d say that there’s a Catholic language in architecture that’s been developed over the centuries. Modern architecture is about form and function and their interactions, but these concerns are alien to a Catholic church, for a church building has a form, a function and a script.

    Modernist architects fail to understand that a church building is also conveying a message, not his, but God’s. Moreover, they don’t understand the function of a Catholic church, even if told they probably wouldn’t be able to understand it, but the sad truth is that many pastors and building committees wouldn’t be able to tell it to an architect either.

    Moreover, truth and beauty are alien to modern architecture. Not because it engenders ugly buildings – it actually engenders some beautiful ones every now and then – but because it ignores such concepts. The prophets of modern architecture used to refer to their concoctions as machines to reside in, and it shows. Of course, many of the prophets of modern architecture never ever got a building commission, and many of those which did, it was for academia or government, as normal people merely couldn’t ever reside in their machines.