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In last Sunday’s bulletin, Nicoletta shared some thoughts about bells and bell towers:

Campanilismo (a/k/a Parochialism)

By: Nicoletta MacKenzie

Actually, the translation of campanilismo into parochialism is not a good one. The literal translation would be closer to “bell-tower-ism,” since a campanile is in fact a bell tower.

How did the usage of the word start? It started when, in the mid 500s, Italians began to build towers with bells, both for church and for public use. In the beginning, it was supposed to be the highest building in the village, town or city, and the bells had a very practical use. For instance: church bells were rung at very specific times or events and according to specific sounds. They would notify all within hearing distance that Mass was about to start, or the beginning of a novena, a triduum or the 40-hour Eucharistic Adoration. Every noon the bells told us that it was time to pray the Angelus (noon), and at 3:00 pm every Friday they’d toll Jesus’ death. Festive bell peals announced weddings, the local parish feast day, solemnities and processions and the election of a new Pope. Slow tolls notified of deaths and funerals.

Church bells also warned of danger and disasters, such as a fire, war and of pirate incursions, in the dark days when they prowled, pillaged and burned all around the coasts of Italy.

Bells on civic towers tolled national holidays, school times, marked the hours (down to the quarter hour) and also served as a warning mechanism.

You can see how important bells were in everyday life, and they were set on the tallest building so that their sound would reach as far as possible.

That’s why Italians became attached to their bell towers, their campanili. Soon there arose a spirit of competition in the breasts of citizens of neighboring villages, towns and even cities. After all, if it was to be the most visible representative of a community, the bell tower had to be beautiful; it had to be recognized from a distance; and it had to be unusual. A town with a “run of the mill” campanile reflected poorly on its inhabitants. And so the larger towns, who could count on the financial support of more people, started to hire architects to design the building that would represent them to anyone who came within sight.

Some of these towers are so famous that just about everyone in the world has heard of them.

For instance, who has not heard of The Leaning Tower of Pisa? Yes maam, it’s the bell tower of the Duomo (or principal church) of Pisa. Its striking structure has no rival anywhere in the world. It took “only” 177 years to complete and although the good Pisani certainly did not intend for their masterpiece to start sinking into the ground, they undoubtedly got their money’s worth! Here you can clearly see the Duomo, which is almost dwarfed by its magnificent and yes, leaning, tower.

Closer to the town from where my family hails, there is a less well known but equally distinctive bell tower: the Campanile di Ossuccio. Its delicate, slender and tall form is also unmistakable. This one stands guard over the church of St. Mary Magdalene. The characteristic top was added in the late 1400s, while the original “stem” goes back to the 1100s.

And who has not heard of the bell tower of Notre Dame? Or at least, of its bell-ringer? Now I’m going to dare to say that my campanile has that squat structure in Paris beat all hollow. And you can call me campanilista if you wish.

And now our Holy Trinity church also has a bell tower, with a full contingent of bells. I venture to say that it’s the most handsome in all Westminster, and while it may not rival in beauty with the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the slender marvel in Ossuccio, when it’s lit up at night it brings a lump to the throat. Its tall grace proclaims to our part of the city that we love God and put our trust in Him.

I can hardly wait to hear the sound of “our” bells calling us, and anyone else who wishes to join us. In fact, a bell tower with its ringing bells is eminently Catholic and exemplifies what the writer James Joyce said: “Catholic means: here comes everybody.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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Two comments overheard at tonight’s Light Weigh meeting:

We are so blessed to have a priest like Father Hilton, who had the vision to help us get a beautiful worship space!

and

Father Hilton is going to wake up with sore cheek muscles tomorrow because he’s been smiling so hard all weekend!

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The summer 2009 issue of ArchitectColorado includes two features on projects at Holy Trinity. ArchitectColorado is the professional journal of the Colorado Component of the American Institute of Architects. This issue has a focus on religious architecture. Holy Trinity and Integration Design Group are featured in two articles.

The first article is “A Shared Vision of the Sacred” by Chryss Cada. Cada covers three religious projects that involved many different decision makers. Cada starts with this quote:

Any architect who has worked with more than one owner on a project knows how difficult it can be to form a shared vision, so imagine the task when there are several hundred opinions to take into account.

Here is the part of the article referencing Holy Trinity’s Chapel:


Excerpt: Architect Colorado, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 14 – 16:

A Shared Vision
of the Sacred

HOLY TRINITY
ADORATION CHAPEL
Knowledge of a faith’s religious practices is often a major consideration in selection of an architect for a house of worship.Father John Hilton was specifically looking for a “great Catholic architect” for the remodel of the Holy Trinity Adoration Chapel at his Westminster, Colo., church.

“Asking someone who doesn’t go to Mass, who doesn’t worship at a Catholic Church, to design a Catholic chapel would be like asking a Christian to design a mosque,” he said. “The architect needs to be familiar with what the building he designs is going to be used for.”

The contract for the $200,000 remodel of the 1,000-square-foot chapel was awarded to Henderson, Colo.-based  Integration Design Group, PC. This was the firm’s first religious architecture venture.

“It is our hope that religious architecture will remain the central focus of our firm in the years ahead,” said Adam Hermanson, AIA, principal at Integration Design Group. “These buildings carry great significance for those who come to worship within them, and the design of sacred architecture is one way in which we serve both God and God’s people.

Hermanson, the project architect, had worked on several other churches during his design career prior to founding Integration Design Group in 2006.

“A lot of people see only the challenges of religious architecture because the opportunities aren’t as apparent,” Hermanson said. “But growth well done can enhance the spiritual life of a congregation. What we’re actually doing when we work on a church is to help build up the community.”

Hermanson said attendance and membership often increase in a new or remodeled building. That has been the case at the renovated Adoration Chapel at Holy Trinity. Built in the 1960s as part of a convent, the chapel was very simple.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church first approached the firm to design a new altar for the exposition and adoration of the Eucharist. The project developed from an altar design into a complete renovation of the chapel.Design elements include a new carved limestone and travertine altar, red onyx niches and a wood and stone altar rail. The finishes were selected to complement two icons in the chapel written by a parishioner trained in the authentic egg tempera method.

“I gave them very general ideas, such as wanting it to be noble, prayerful and exemplify a rich dignified beauty, and he took it from there,” Hilton said. “I was brought in at every stage of the project for back-and-forth discussions.”

Integration Design Group is now the architect for the $2.5 million renovation of Holy Trinity’s main church. A town hall approach is being used to incorporate parishioners’ opinions into the renovation.

“The town hall meetings are very enjoyable because you can feel the excitement in the community as they work together to articulate their vision for their church,” Hermanson said. “There’s no other space besides a family’s home that brings with it such a powerful sense of ownership.”

Architect: INTEGRATION DESIGN GROUP, PC – Adam Hermanson, AIA
Location: Westminster, Colorado
Construction Cost: $190,000.00
Scope: Project included a complete interior renovation including: tile flooring; lighting; finishes; stone altar; stone and wood altar rail; new HVAC system; and new accessible restroom. Exterior modifications included: new roof; accessibility improvements, entrance door and window replacements.
Completion: May 2008

Owner: Holy Trinity Catholic Church
Contractor: RN Fenton Company
Electrical Engineer: Architectural Engineering Design Group, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Integrated Mechanical Systems, Inc.

Other Notable Projects by INTEGRATION DESIGN GROUP, PC:

  • Holy Trinity Catholic Church – Addition & Renovation (current) Westminster, Colo.
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church – Liturgical Elements Design (complete) Northglenn, Colo.
  • Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church – New Church (current) (local consulting architect) Windsor, Colo.
  • Fellowship of Catholic University Students – Office Chapel (complete) Northglenn, Colo.

Other buildings featured in this article include the Aish Ahavas Synagogue in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and the Buckley Air Force Base Chapel Center.

The Colorado Component of the American Institute of Architects can be found at www.aiacolorado.org.  Click the link for the order form to order your copy of ArchitectColorado.

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What is an Altar?

baldicchino

The Creative Minority Report has a great quote on the Catholic view of the altar. This is by Geoffrey Webb, from his 1939 book The Liturgical Altar:

“The reason for [the Church’s] meticulous directions is to be found in the supreme importance which the Church attaches to the altar in her liturgy. Not only does she consider it the central focus of the whole liturgy, the raison d’être of the building in which its stands; not only does she indicate that the church exists for the altar, rather than the altar for the church; not only does she look upon it as the sacrificial stone, upon which Christ, our Priest and Victim, offers Himself daily in His Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is the central act of her liturgy; but she has proclaimed again and again that in her mind the altar represents her Lord Himself. He is Altar, Victim and Priest; and the reverence for the altar, expressed in the restraint and dignity of its design, symbolizes the reverence due to Christ Himself.”

Image courtesy of King Richard’s Religious Antiques.

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Archbishop ColeridgeLast week, The Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, wrote a pastoral Pentecost Letter on the Liturgy to his archdiocese. The Archbishop issued new instructions as the Australian bishops begin the full implementation of their new General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM). The archbishop points out that “The new version of General Instruction is one of a number of indications that the Church is moving into a new phase of the ongoing journey of liturgical renewal”.

This event give the Archbishop a chance to consider beauty in Catholic worship (emphasis mine):

Pope Benedict has stressed the point that beauty has a unique power to speak of the mysteries of the faith, and to speak to those who may not share our faith. That is why the Catholic Church has always been concerned with beauty in worship – not for the sake of a vapid aestheticism but for the sake of the Gospel. Imperfect created beauty makes visible the perfect uncreated beauty of God which is revealed supremely in Christ crucified and risen. Therefore, the buildings in which we worship should be beautiful, which is not to say highly elaborate or impossibly expensive. The great churches of the Franciscan tradition, for instance, have about them a striking simplicity, but they are also strikingly beautiful. Some of the older churches in the Archdiocese are beautiful and need only to be respected for what they are. Many of the newer churches are less evocative, and it is worth asking perhaps how they might be made more beautiful without spending a fortune.

The good archbishop covers many topics in his letter We can read the whole Pentecost Letter on the Liturgy (in PDF format) on the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn web page.

Archbishop Coleridge has a handsome church, built in the Spanish Romanesque style. See the Archdiocesan web page for a beautiful slide show tour of St. Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra. St. Christopher’s is in the Manuka district of Canberra, and is the largest church in the Australian capitol city. A 1973 remodeling extended the nave, increasing the seating from 440 to 720.

Hat Tip: The Curt Jester on “Chatty & Noisy Worship”

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Virgin of the Lilies by William Beaugeraux

Except from La Vierge au Lys [The Virgin of the Lilies]
by William Bouguereau (1899)

REDEMPTORIS MATER
MOTHER OF THE REDEEMER

Encyclical – Pope John Paul II
March 25, 1987

PART II – THE MOTHER OF GOD AT THE CENTER OF THE PILGRIM CHURCH
* 2. The Church’s journey and the unity of all Christians

33. This year there occurs the twelfth centenary of the Second Ecumenical Council of Nice (787). Putting an end to the well-known controversy about the cult of sacred images, this Council defined that, according to the teaching of the holy Fathers and the universal tradition of the Church, there could be exposed for the veneration of the faithful, together with the Cross, also images of the Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, in churches and houses and at the roadside. This custom has been maintained in the whole of the East and also in the West. Images of the Virgin have a place of honor in churches and houses. In them Mary is represented in a number of ways: Icon of the Theotokosas the throne of God carrying the Lord and giving him to humanity (“Theotokos“); [shown at right] as the way that leads to Christ and manifests him (“Hodegetria”); as a praying figure in an attitude of intercession and as a sign of the divine presence on the journey of the faithful until the day of the Lord (Deesis); as the protectress who stretches out her mantle over the peoples (Pokrov), or as the merciful Virgin of tenderness (Eleousa). She is usually represented with her Son, the child Jesus, in her arms: it is the relationship with the Son which glorifies the Mother. Sometimes she embraces him with tenderness (Glykophilousa); at other times she is a hieratic figure, apparently rapt in contemplation of him who is the Lord of history (cf. Rev. 5:9-14).

It is also appropriate to mention the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, [shown at right] which continually accompanied the pilgrimage of faith of the peoples of ancient Rus’. The first Millennium of the conversion of those noble lands to Christianity is approaching: lands of humble folk, of thinkers and of saints. The Icons are still venerated in the Ukraine, in Byelorussia and in Russia under various titles. They are images which witness to the faith and spirit of prayer of that people, who sense the presence and protection of the Mother of God. In these Icons the Virgin shines as the image of divine beauty, the abode of Eternal Wisdom, the figure of the one who prays, the prototype of contemplation, the image of glory: she who even in her earthly life possessed the spiritual knowledge inaccessible to human reasoning and who attained through faith the most sublime knowledge. I also recall the Icon of the Virgin of the Cenacle, praying with the Apostles as they awaited the Holy Spirit: could she not become the sign of hope for all those who, in fraternal dialogue, wish to deepen their obedience of faith?

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Q: To start – tell us a little of your background. Who is Adam Hermanson?

Adam Hermanson: I was raised in Big Sky Country – Billings, Montana. I was fortunate to attend Catholic schools there from the first grade through high school. Following graduation, I headed to Washington, DC, landing at The Catholic University of America for my undergraduate education. After four great years at CUA, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. I then moved to Boston to begin studies at Harvard – receiving a Master in Architecture from the Graduate School of Design shortly thereafter.

My wife, Nicole – who was also raised in Billings – attended Boston University. She and I were married during our time in Boston, and we welcomed our first daughter during my final year of graduate school. After working in Boston for some time, we moved back to out West, ending up in Colorado. Since then we have been blessed with two more beautiful little girls.

We live in the northern metro area of Denver, and are active parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn.

Q: How did you decide to become an architect?

It was a very natural choice. Several teachers and friends of our family noted that I seemed to have interests that included both science and art. I was also able to visit with several architects at different firms in Billings, and every one noted that their job satisfaction was very, very high. The project-based nature of the profession makes everyday new and different – with new projects and new challenges.

I began working in a local architecture firm during my senior year of high school and gained a first-hand perspective on the practice of architecture. When I began studying architecture at CUA I came to understand it as my vocation, not simply a career or profession.

Q: How did you decide to open your own firm?

I enjoyed four years of practice at an excellent firm here in Denver before launching Integration Design Group back in 2006. I found myself looking for the next professional challenge, and the idea of starting a new practice had always appealed to me.

The decision was guided by prayerful discernment, and I have tried to establish a design firm that will serve faith-based and charitable institutions and organizations with the highest quality design services.

Because an architect is always a partner, we inherit the dreams, values, and purposes of an organization in order to serve its future needs. When the architect can align his values and vision with those of his client the architect serves their needs far more effectively. That is why I decided to step out in a new way, offering values and vision that serve the needs of faith-based organizations.

Q: What have been the rewards of practicing architecture?

The rewards are many indeed. There is great satisfaction as a project comes to fruition – knowing it will have a positive effect on the lives of many people.

Architecture responds to our human condition in many, many ways. It is about people – from its purpose, to its process, and its products. Without the needs, relationships, and appreciation of people there would be no rewards in the practice of architecture. Simply stated, the great reward in the practice of architecture is our participation in the transformation of the world, for the better, for others.

Q: What exactly do architects do? What are your key responsibilities?

The architect’s role changes throughout the course of the project. At the outset the primary role of the architect is to assist the owner in envisioning the possibilities for the future of their built environment. Then each project requires decisions to be made which eliminate some of the possibilities, and the owner rightly depends on the advice of the architect in this narrowing of the options. Then the architect brings all the necessary engineers and other design experts into the project and coordinates their aspects of design work. The architect brings together all of the project requirements and the design efforts of multiple engineers into a cohesive, integrated whole. All of this occurs under the guidance of the architect who guides the project, ensuring that the final design meets the requirements and goals set forth in the early stages of the design process.

Allston Branch of the Boston Public LibraryQ: What are your favorite buildings?

I have a real appreciation of buildings that A) utilize authentic materials, and B) serve a public, communal, or ritual purpose.

One example is the Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library – contemporary Exterior SJVdesign with elegant use of stone, wood, and daylight.

Another wonderful example is Christ the King Chapel and its Tower at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization here in Denver – exquisite design, grounded firmly on this earth and lifting our eyes heavenward.

Q: What are the key influences in your work today?

Our work avoids the contemporary emphasis on thinner, lighter, more synthetic materials. We favor design with ‘gravitas’ – having greater presence, solid authentic materials, and traditional order, proportion, and balance. And certainly these can be achieved with contemporary construction methods; however it requires that we pay greater attention to craftsmanship and detailing.

Almost all of our projects involve working in on or around existing buildings – so we are continually working to stitch old and new together – hence ‘Integration’ as part of our name.

Q: What church building has made the biggest impression on you?

National ShrineI would have to name two. The first is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University in Washington, DC. It is a building of immense scale, such as is rarely experienced in the life of American Catholics. The devotional mission, its Marian dedication, and the rich integration of diverse artwork throughout make it an impressive and particularly American expression of our Catholic faith. The crypt church below the main church is particularly excellent. I had the opportunity to work, worship, and study in and around this building, and even received my degree on its east steps upon graduation from CUA.

Dominican ChapelThe second is a chapel within a building – at the Dominican House of Studies adjacent to the campus of Catholic University. While a student at CUA I attended daily Mass very often with the friars who were teaching and studying at the Dominican House. We would join them in the choir stalls and participate in Vespers with them, chanting the psalmody back and forth across the chapel. The simplicity and order of the chapel along with the beautiful wood altar and reredos left a substantial impression on me as an aspiring architect – strengthening my appreciation of the role and value of tradition in the life of the Church.

Q: How do you think the role of the architect will change over the next twenty-five years?

It will vary greatly by the type of clients and projects that the architect serves. However, in almost all types of projects, digital modeling technology will allow tremendous integration of the ‘project delivery’ process – design and construction will be far more unified than they are now. This will change the role of the architect in many ways, not the least of which will be that the architect will participate fully as a team member throughout the entire project, not just as an adviser or consultant to the owner in the early stages of the project.

Q: What would you tell a Holy Trinity student if s/he asked you what s/he should study and do to be an architect?

Studies:

  • Art – Basic understanding of the principles of classical and contemporary design.
  • Physics & Natural Sciences – Basic understanding of why materials behave in certain ways under certain conditions.
  • Business & Management – Basic understanding of business and financial matters.

Activities:

  • Develop a love for the work and process of design – always looking for origins and consequences.
  • Observe and engage your surroundings, both the natural environment and the built environment.
  • Draw things and build things.
  • Always wonder why things are as they are, how they could have been different, and how they might be transformed for the better!
  • You must always to love to learn!

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