Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Heaven Is In The Rafters At The Cathedral

June 3rd, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

This is a republishing of a previous post from July 18, 2011.

Also, a reminder that the rite of priestly ordination will take place tomorrow morning 10:30 A.M. May 4, 2016 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester.



Like many people of the diocese I was disheartened by the results of the renovation of our cathedral. I believe several serious mistakes were made in the renovation. Nevertheless, besides utilitarian improvements, there are several good things in which we can rejoice that came out of that renovation.  One good thing certainly has to be the beautifully restored patterns on the rafters, and the angels from which the arches spring.


(Click on photos for larger views)



I have written before of my hope that we return to emphasizing in our churches, through imagery, the presence of the heavenly personages at Mass. Every Mass is a celebration both here and in heaven. The angels and saints are as much in attendance as our fellows in the pews. Images make us conscious of their presence.


Heaven and earth meet in the liturgy that is held in the church building and so the building matters, it is not just incidental. The physical building and its decoration predisposes us to receive the graces of the sacraments.


Heaven comes down to us (or, we are lifted up to heaven) and hovers over us in the restored angels and brightened patterns of the rafters of our cathedral. Rich bright patterns as well as garden plants -vines and flowers- have always been associated with our idea of the splendor of heaven. Stars on a blue field, too. They are some of the few ways we humans can attempt to depict a sense of heaven. The heavenly angels high up on the walls of the cathedral, pleasingly appearing in peaceful pastel colors, support the rafters of heaven.



It is a glorious ceiling and most fitting for a Catholic church. Take heart in the rafters of heaven next time you participate in Mass at the Cathedral.


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8 Responses to “Heaven Is In The Rafters At The Cathedral”

  1. avatar Persis says:

    Thank you so much for this!
    I know there a many people who do not like what was done to Sacred Heart,
    but as someone who had grown-up attending this Church with my grandparents in the 70’s & 80’s I have to say that I like it much better now than I ever did.
    That is not to say that I like EVERYTHING, but there is a lot of beauty to behold in this space! 🙂

  2. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Its a really nice ceiling. But a ceiling does not a cathedral make. The total renovation look, with the nice new ceiling? It looks like an old Cathedral renovated into a nice concert hall or “gathering[!]space”. NOT a Cathedral!

    Persis: it does look brighter and cleaner, for sure. But the ends does NOT justify the means – even though that seems to be the unrelenting motto of the Clark Administration. The fact is: a cleaner, brighter look could have been accomplished with a lot less money pillaged from the people, and without savagely ripping out what is dear and sacred and holy to DOR Catholics, and without completely and arrogantly disregarding and publicly discounting the fervent and organized protests of the people whose money Bishop Clark used for his ode-to-self. The Sacred Heart Cathedral’s ridiculously extravagant wreckovation will now always be an embarrassing reminder of modus operandi of this administration. Which is why, IMO, we are better off without it. In spite of the beautiful ceiling.

  3. avatar Giovanni says:

    Every time I’m in the Cathedral I can’t help but stare at those angel statues. I must say during the renovation I was worried about how it might turn out but with it complete I must say that we have a very beautiful Cathedral.

  4. avatar Gretchen says:

    What a great reminder that we should be looking towards heaven! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos.

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    I appreciate the ceiling when I go into the Cathedral, observe the massive organ where the tabernacle used to be located, and look to heaven asking “Why, God?”

  6. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Me too.

  7. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:

    Thank you, Bernie, for these glorious pictures. I have not been able to make myself enter Sacred Heart Cathedral since the wreckovation.

  8. avatar christian says:

    Thanks Bernie for posting the pictures of the rafters and ceiling for a place to look for inspiration. Have you ever notice how young children look up at the ceiling of a church? I must admit that I still look around and up at the ceiling of a church when it is not time to focus on the parts of the mass including Consecration, Eucharist, or Homily.

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