Long Before (original circa 1966):
During (November 2009):
During (January 2010):
For more views of our project, see our Picture of the Day list.
In today’s bulletin, Father Hilton writes:
During my sermon last weekend I said that our new altar is called a “Tomb Altar.” Why? Because it is shaped as a tomb, and this is one of the earliest types of altar in the Catholic Church, because they were built over the relics of the saints who were martyred for love of Christ. Many of you know that every altar in old Catholic churches contained a relic of a martyr saint, and then, when persecutions ceased, of other saints, such as St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Charles Borromeo. Sometimes cities would fight over the right to bury a saint under their altars; for instance, if a saint was born in one town but died in another, both places would claim “ownership” of the relics. Why was this so important? Possibly because of a passage in the Bible. In fact, St. John, in Revelation 6:9 tells us that “I saw under the altar the souls of the them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.”
In fact, it is probable that this Revelation verse was the reason why Pope Felix I, in 279 A.D. decreed that “Mass should be celebrated above the tombs of martyrs.” This practice was so taken to heart by the people that, beginning in the middle ages it was a rule that no altar could be consecrated unless it contained a relic or relics.
With the development of the relic-custom the square box shape of an “altar-tomb” became the norm, and gradually the original table-shaped form disappeared. The altar then, became not only the most sacred place in the church because it was the place where bread and wine would be transubstantiated into the precious Body and Blood of Christ; it was also the resting place of those who had either been martyred for the sake of Christ, or who had shown heroic Christian virtues during their lives (the saints). That’s why these altars were crafted with great care, using the best of materials. Anyone going to pilgrimage in Europe or in the Holy Land will be able to see altars made even of gold and silver. Such an altar still remains in in the Cathedral of Saint Ambrose at Milan, dating from the 9th century.
Our new altar, at Holy Trinity, is not quite as elaborate as that, but it is beautifully made of marble, and a relic of St. Charles Borromeo (whose body lies in state in a crystal urn, which forms the base of an altar in the crypt of the Cathedral of Milan) rests within it. Thus we also, at Holy Trinity, can say that the words of Revelations apply to us: “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” While St. Charles did not spill his blood to give witness to God, his life was certainly a powerful witness to the love which he bore for the Lord.
This week’s edition of the Denver Catholic Register has a color photo of our altar on the front, and a nice article with a black and white photo on page 5. Here’s our version of roughly the same image in color:
Here is an excerpt from the DCR article:
Holy Trinity Church unveils new worship space
By John Gleason
Last month, parishioners at Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster marked the completion of a $2.6 million remodel of their worship space. The newly renovated church, located at 7597 Federal Blvd. in Westminster, was celebrated in a series of thanksgiving Masses and receptions on May 15-16.
Founded in 1948, this was the first time the church proper had undergone any remodeling, according to Holy Trinity pastor Father John Hilton.
“Oh we’ve rearranged the furniture a few times,” he said with a chuckle, “but this is the first major renovation that’s been done to the church.”
Prior to the remodeling of the worship area, Holy Trinity Parish built a multi-purpose parish hall in 2007 which can be used as a meeting hall, socialization area and gymnasium. The following year, the parish renovated their adoration chapel.
In the last decade, Holy Trinity has seen its population more than double. Today 2,600 families attend Mass there, so an increase in the size of the worship space was of primary importance.
To do this, part of the existing west wall was knocked down and other walls were extended to increase the size from 7,000 to 9,000 square feet, allowing for more pews on the main floor and another 40 added to the choir loft.
Confessionals near the altar were removed allowing for the addition of new windows to provide more natural light to the area. The confessionals were relocated at the rear of the church. A bell tower was also added.
See the whole article here:
Compare to the before version:
In today’s bulletin, Father Hilton writes:
Does it seem like a long time since we started the renovation of our church? I know that many of us, from the Design Committee to the Finance Council, from our Architect to our dedicated staff, and all those who were involved in the planning and executing this project put forth the best of our efforts and energies. All of us were determined to use our gifts of generosity for the greatest honor of God and to provide future generations of parishioners with a beautiful place in which to worship. We hope that, when you walk into your new church, you will feel that we have achieved our goal, because during all the planning and executing stages we had you, as well as our Lord, in mind.
Traditionally, our Catholic churches have been designed as places of peaceful beauty for two reasons: First, because we instinctively know that God is the Creator of all that is beautiful and, as King David so many centuries ago, we want to honor Him by making for Him a home that is worthy of Him. Second: because when we gather in a beautiful place our minds turn more easily towards God, who is Beauty Himself. Many of our adorers, for instance, tell me that they find rest and gather strength every time they visit the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel: that was our goal, and it has been our goal as we planned, designed and transformed the church. I encourage you to look around, observe all the details, and tell me whether you agree that we have achieved our goal.
You will also notice that we have tried to make the space as comfortable as possible for you: the pews are a little farther apart, so those with long legs will not “bump” in the kneeler behind them. If you pardon me for saying it, I think that the Choir loft not only is beautiful, but it does more justice to the voices of our choir members. How about our confessionals? They are elegant, but more importantly, they will give greater privacy to everyone and the sound-proof wall coverings will make sure that no whisper can be heard outside. We gave special attention to our Marian Chapel, where our beautifully restored statue of the Blessed Virgin finds her home. The raised ceiling, the “clerestory,” with high windows give us more light and greater height. The best part, of course, is our Sanctuary, our new altar area. It is difficult to be distracted during Mass when our eyes are attracted to the exquisite work that required the greatest amount of thought and skill in execution.
Of course, the fact that we now have air conditioning for the Summer will make everyone more comfortable.
I pray that you are thrilled with how our renovated church has turned out. More importantly, I pray that our new church will be a rich source of blessing for you, your children and grandchildren. I again thank you for your generosity and sacrifice, which made all this possible, and I know that those parishioners who will come to the Holy Mass in the future will thank you, just as we thank those who fifty years ago first built the Parish of Holy Trinity that we love. God’s blessings upon you and your family!
Fr. John Hilton and Fr. Carlos Bello
Editor’s note: Click the embedded links for more about Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster and this remodeling project. Thank you to Allan Eckert, Dave Koski and Nancy Thompson for the images.
After Monday’s bell ringer orientation, but while the choir was practicing, I captured these images of the nave with the newly installed pews.
Image captured 3-May-10.
Thanks to Allan Eckert for this image.