Thursday, August 25, 2022


 This is the Cathedral Ecce Homo in Colombia. To be honest with you, I like it as I like modern architecture that is art and this fits the bill.

What I don’t like is the sanctuary arrangement. Specifically, I don’t like the placement of the “cathedra” or the Bishop’s throne. It towers over everything and is at the highest point. Prior to Vatican II, the altar would have occupied the highest level and the throne a lower level and not central. That pre-Vatican II development happened organically as the Church came to recognize that the altar was more important than the bishop or the priest celebrant. Not that they are completely unimportant, but clericalism leads to an inflated ego and thus the altar moved to the highest point and the priest to a lower point. 

This is clearly shown at our Savannah’s Cathedral Basilica. The old arrangement still exists but with a new arrangement imposed. The old high altar is up four steps in the sanctuary. The Bishop’s throne is up only three steps and to the side not dead center. However, the new altar, which matches the old one in style, is lower than the bishop’s throne and the ambo. The bishop’s throne and ambo both are three steps higher. What’s up with that?

Over night, and hoping to recover old ideas that had died, the spirit of Vatican II returned the throne to the highest point in many places. Not a good symbol at all!


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I wonder if there is a plan for permanent seating? Overall, I very much like the lightness of the space.

Several more pix here:

TJM said...

Well "Mr. Branch Manager" needs to show the peons who is boss!

But the lightness of the interior is very nice

ByzRus said...

I can't be too critical of the sanctuary arrangement as Byzantine sanctuaries do something similar regarding the bishop's throne. That said, and in contract, the orientation of our holy place is different from that of the Roman west. Here, my sense is more of a focus on flow as opposed to spiritual verticality. If not elevated, the bishop cannot see his flock while anticipating that portion of divine worship where the focus changes from the chair/apostolic succession to the altar of God. I "get" it, however, and to me, it creates the wrong focus and prioritization of that which is important.

I like the brightness/airyness of this space, however, it needs more Catholicity to come through with a focus on the divine, not mortal man despite the importance of apostolic succession.

I don't know that any anticipated refocus the Vatican has in mind regarding the eucharist and true presence really has a chance of being illustrated in the desired way as man will always be in a superior position even if the exposed eucharist is elevate on a tabor on the altar which, presumably, would be embellished for the occassion. What is lost relative to the theology of the building will prevent this in all instances.