Monday, January 16, 2023


 On Sunday when I celebrated Mass at the lovely Mission parish of Nativity of Our Lady built in the 1940’s in Darien, Georgia, I was perplexed as to why the door directly behind the “reredos” was visible to the entire congregation, especially when opened. And to boot, the door is not centered! Quite a distraction for visitors to say the least:

Of course, my OCD kicked in immediately as I tried to figure out ways to remedy the whole thing. Even a nice arched wooden piece, as wide and tall as the door, placed on the reredos behind the tabernacle,  would help tremendously. 

But then I found a pre-Vatican II photo with the altar attached to the reredos. This is another solution to hide the door, but I suspect there are other simple ways similar to this too:

Apart from the rod iron backdrop, all remains as was, except the altar is pulled forward to the edge of the top predella. The rod iron insert to the attached altar, remains, but now below the tabernacle. As you might be able to see in the photos I took, especially the side view..

What suggestions do you have for hiding the hideous door that is visible to the congregation and not centered, truly offending my OCD!?


ByzRus said...

First, I'd like to congratulate this parish on their charming church. It's elegantly simple and very inviting. While I'm mostly indifferent to stained glass windows, these are also tasteful and striking.

What I like most in this space is the reredos. While I like seeing older fixtures repurposed, and certainly this building would have been perfect for that purpose, I like to see what CAN be built today. Here, its both simple, elegant, substantial and it looks to have been executed affordably.

To your question, a dwarf wall would be an excellent option. Either wrought iron, or brass, I don't see how you could go wrong. Decorated with a cream, red, or perhaps gold curtain, it would separate the utility area from the sanctuary. Alternatively, a wall incorporating the stone work used to execute both the altar and reredos would be another option. It would provide a backdrop that allows the fixtures and the physical wall to be distinct from one another. Taken one step farther, I would add tile/sheeting inside the alcoves housing the side statues, stone as the base upon which they could sit and sheeting down the front to create side altars without actually having to build.

As the building itself is gothic, not Romanesque, the San Damiano cross really does not match. I would relocate it to another prominent area and have a crucifix either affixed to the dwarf wall, or perched on top of the tabernacle should space allow. Over the arch, perhaps some script in gold leaf, or some mural art. This space would really accommodate a whole host of embellishments comfortably and cohesively.

Clearly, this church is both well loved and maintained. I wish this parish well.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Our diocese is working toward the canonization of the four Georgia Martyrs, all Franciscans, who in the 1550’s established a mission on St. Catherine Island, adjacent to Darien, for the Indian tribe that was in the region and in large numbers. They were martyred by a group of these Indians opposed to their efforts. Darien is the “port” where one gets a boat to visit St. Catherine’s Island, accessible only by boat. It is preserve now, with no development occurring, although the mission is an archeological gem and remnants of the mission church remain.

Nativity of Our Lady, has a recently installed shrine to the four Georgia Martyrs. You can see the photo on the original post. I suspect the Franciscan cross in the church is a relatively new feature and placed there because of the cause for canonization we have for these four Franciscan martyrs.

TJM said...

Too bad the reredos were removed - it was actually tasteful and could have been maintained even with the altar made versus populum

rcg said...

I agree with the likely reason for the door being seen. It seems that a ‘wrought’ iron reredos would answer the need.