Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Saint Mary’s Church, Dansville, NY

April 13th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

Dansville, New York, has a beautiful church that has avoided ruin through “Spirit of Vatican II” activism.

web 01bae5e57efea590ab7f6be82aaf955e110c7f55a5_edited-1Saint Mary’s in Dansville is a mix of styles. I would call it Romanesque but it has a Renaissance/Baroque main entrance, Gothic Revival coins at the corners and a prominent pediment, and touches of Byzantine in a domed cupola and stone/brick banding toward the top of the tower.

web 01f23438a9bcb34ca34acc4936d10c22ceb3a99c10_edited-1The church is in the style of an early Christian basilica and includes an open timbered ceiling, characteristic of the earliest of Christian churches. There is a large nave and two side aisles but no side chapels. The apse houses a gorgeous classical Renaissance altar designed to appear to have a baldachin or ciborium. The tabernacle was never moved after the Second Vatican Council and so is in the center of the cancel, on the altar. The vaulted ceiling is  coffered with rosettes.

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Appropriately, the back and side walls of the apse are painted in a rich, gold pattern reminiscence of a king’s throne room.

The draped opening between the columns of the altar cries out for a painting but we are offered an aesthetically underwhelming (to me) suspended sculpture of the risen Lord. I’m wondering if a painting was once there or was at least planned for that space.

web 01d6a58bd89dcbcc95e6b8ac98d69b2c006c25f0c6_edited-2Unfortunately, banners have been hung on some of the sides of the piers (square columns). They are at least well designed but, alas, they are banners and I dislike banners. In this case I think they distract from the Stations of the Cross. The piers were designed to be unadorned except for the Stations. Thankfully, the colors of the banners harmonize with the architecture and they are in good proportion to the sides of the piers.

web 01db2453d20195dda066a1a05767c9c2c69bb836ab_edited-1The Stations of the Cross are outstanding in Saint Mary’s. Renaissance in style, each has a touch of Byzantine in the gold mosaic-like skies.


Yet another style appears to us in the spandrels between the piers (those triangular spaces over the piers). A heavenly host of angels rendered in the Art Nouveau style look down on us and announce that we are in sacred space –the throne room of the King, the temple of the Lord. (Yes, yes, I know, in the New Covenant the people are the Temple.)

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Like nearly everything else in this church, the stained glass windows are beautiful. Rich in detail and outstanding in rendering they each invite study and reflection.

web 01e00df7767c17fa51f22ea19b6ea8e78071a45f0b_edited-1 Look at the wonderful elaboration of the main entrance. Something important happens here. This isn’t just any building.

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More Information about Saint Mary’s

Good Friday 2016

March 25th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

Grave crucifixes from a French cemetery.

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Should Sacred Space Ever Be Used for a Secular Purpose?

March 16th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

Have you seen the post (link to a National Catholic Register article) on the custodian who was arrested for the way in which he protested a movie themed flower show in the Omaha Cathedral? Do take a minute and peruse the post HERE.

The Church has rules concerning acceptable use of the sacred space of a church. I don’t know, specifically, what those are so I hope some readers who know can inform us of the rules in the comment box.

Regardless of the official rules, however, I pose the question as to whether you think it is ever proper to use a church for secular events or displays? (Let’s keep in mind that, unlike the middle ages, there are plenty of secular venues available for large gatherings.)

A few years ago I ran into a very beautiful art installation in the Abbey Church of Melk, Austria. From an aesthetic point of view it was a stunning play on the colors of the interior of the church and the rounded architectural forms of the dome and arches. Curtains of (what appeared to be) flowers added an ethereal or transcendental feeling. Certainly we could not object to this use of a church as much as we might to the Omaha installation that featured costumed manikins depicting movie scenes. But, should even the Melk Abbey church installation have been allowed?

(Click on each photograph)

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Custodian Arrested

March 15th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From The National Catholic Register

…when Kenney walked into the Cathedral on Jan. 29, he couldn’t believe his eyes. There, hanging in the nave of the cathedral, was a life-sized and fully detailed…

Read more HERE.

Be sure to take a look at some pictures of the displays HERE.

Stations of the Cross at Church of the Good Shepherd

March 11th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

Traditional Stations of the Cross was prayed at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta, tonight, led by Father Peter Adu Boahen Nkansah.


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Very brief video clip HERE

Blessed Sacrament Front and Center

March 4th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From the National Catholic Register

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison Wisconsin discusses diocesan deadline for suitable tabernacle placement.

Read more here.

Quality Restoration Work at Saint Jerome’s

February 10th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie
In progress restoration painting work by Liza Barzac

In progress restorative painting work by Liza Barzac

Something like 28 years ago, Liza Barzac and her husband saw a man whitewashing over the pastel colored Stations of the Cross in Saint Jerome’s Church in East Rochester, New York. They thought he was putting a primer coat of paint on the Stations to prepare them for restoration. Then, the gentleman applied a second coat of white –and left them that way. The pastel colored stations were going to be white from then on, until a month or so ago.

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White washed station to be tinted during restoration work by Liza Barzac.

Liza Barzac is now restoring the stations to their pastel coloring. She was asked to do so by Father William Leone, the current pastor at Saint Jerome’s. Liza, has been painting since her retirement. She is a member of the Penfield Art Club and has had her paintings exhibited through that group. She also has been fixing broken statues and figurines for people. When she does those jobs she always has to repaint the arms or legs or whatever to blend the colors of the new with the old. She was doing the same kind of work in Saint Jerome’s basement, fixing up statues and such, when she restored a statue of Saint Joseph that was in a closet. Father Leone noticed how Liza had restored the statue of Saint Joseph and asked her to do the same kind of painting in restoring the stations in the church. And that is what she is doing.

Jesus meets His mother on the way to Gogotha. This station is also in the process of being tinted.

Jesus meets His mother on the way to Gogotha. This station is also in the process of being tinted.

They are not finished, yet, but we can see the approach she is taking in restoring the pastel colors to the white stations.

The Stations are not the only things being restored at Saint Jerome’s. The church has very fine stained glass windows in the nave that were restored by Godfrey Müller Studios which fabricates and restores fine stained glass (585-482-0251, 115 East Main Street, Suite 442, Box 17, Rochester, NY 14609).

The stained glass windows in the nave pair New Testament scenes with those in the Old Testament that prefigure them. Here we see, on the left the New Testament multiplication of the loaves and fish and Bread of Life discourse paired with the Old Testament story of the Manna in the desert.

The stained glass windows in the nave pair New Testament scenes with those in the Old Testament that prefigure them. Here we see, on the left the New Testament multiplication of the loaves and fish to feed the hungry following Jesus paired with the Old Testament story of the miraculous daily manna from heaven that fed the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness.

Here are more pictures of the nave windows.

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When I arrived to take photographs of the stations and windows I bumped into Jeffrey Müller who had just finished installing a new “Pieta” window in the narthex of the ground floor.

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It was the last of new windows he has recently been creating as part of the restoration of the front section of the church: the narthex on the ground floor and the narthex on the first floor where the entrance to the church is. Click on the following pictures to view full images.

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This window is in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

This window is in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

A mural is presently being executed of the “Transfiguration” that will be installed in the ceiling of the narthex to the church. I will return to photograph that work when it is installed.

This is all orthodox, quality work; a real gem in East Rochester and in the Rochester diocese.

Saint Jerome’s has adoration, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every Tuesday. I believe there is benediction in the evening on Tuesdays but you probably should call the parish office to check on that.

Saint Jerome’s parish website is HERE.

“Thank you!” to Glenna Steven for alerting me to the restoration work at Saint Jerome’s.

“She Who Knows the Way”

February 8th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

CF Hodegetria gold frame

Click on the painting for a larger, sharper view.

Most of you who know me personally probably know that I was trained at RIT as an artist: an illustrator. I never worked in the commercial field as I went into teaching. (I liked to eat.) I afflicted high school students for thirty-one years (design, drawing, painting, photography, art history) and then, retired.

During the early years of my career in teaching I painted when I had the energy but, later, drifted into photography, pulled there by teaching photography which was one of my assignments when I was hired. When I retired I joined the Knights of Columbus and began doing photography and graphic design for my local council: event posters, tickets, flyers, information handouts and those types of things.

Recently, I have returned to painting but now I create digital paintings in which I combine my digital photography with digital painting techniques. I am having a good deal of fun.

I’ve never done religious content paintings. What you see here in this post is my first attempt. It is based on about 6 photographs I took while in Burgundy, France this past fall.

I have included a couple of other recent paintings that are more typical of the subject matter I normally employ.

With a bit of anxiety I present to you Hodegetria (“She who knows the Way” or “She who shows the Way”).

Click on each of the pictures below for a view of the whole painting.

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“Karlovy Vary”

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“Three Sisters”

When to worry about the bathrooms, diversity and community.

February 7th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

I have not been called, yet; not from the rebuilding committee at Saint Pius Tenth Church. I expect a call anytime now requesting my guidance on making the new church building truly Catholic.

(chirp, chirp… )

I will be ready, however. Here is the list I have been preparing (for any new Catholic church in the planning stage, not just Pius Tenth).

1. Make it look like a Catholic church both inside and out. The Romanesque style is my preference and the most recognizable as Catholic. The Baroque, too, fully espouses Catholic theology, as well as the Byzantine but with an eastern twist. Modernism, however, has proved a failure. Please avoid it.

Use stone, brick, wood and stained glass. Hide the steel. (Concrete, only if you must.)

Please tell the world through the architectural style you choose that the building is a church: not a store, bank, Target, suburban house, town center, concert hall, or a dairy farm. May the new building announce that something really, really important and serious happens there. A church building is sacred space in which we offer sacrifice in worship of the Holy Trinity led in that worship by the Second Person of that Trinity, Jesus Christ. We have malls, senior citizen centers, youth centers, theaters and town halls to do other things; places meant to cater to us and our personal and community needs.

Please, not like this.

Please, not like this.

2. Use the traditional basilica ground plan: Latin or Greek Cross. It has worked for 1,700 years. Emphasize the linear, not the circular. We are traveling to heaven, not wandering around in circles. Our focus is on God and we want to rush toward Him without sociological, political, or faddish distractions.

Latin Cross Plan

Latin Cross Plan

The governing concept here is that salvation history has a definite beginning and a definite end. It is a whole lot different from the thinking of far eastern religions that delight in endless and limitless oceans of “being”. So, stress linear movement to the altar and not so much a gathering “around” the altar.


3. Speaking of beginnings and endings: Place the main entrance at the opposite end from the altar and make that entrance glorious. It is, after all, meant to mark movement from secular into sacred space. Symbolically, those doors represent the gates of heaven. Surround the doors with images of the saints and angels. Christ enthroned, the vision of Ezekiel or Last Judgment scene would be most appropriate over the doors. The doors themselves must be heavy wood or bronze and display Biblical scenes –perhaps the Annunciation, the angel on one door and Mary on the other. I prefer heavy doors on churches; doors that insist on being taken seriously. Please, no see-through glass doors. This isn’t K Mart.

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Bronze doors with images of the Twelve Apostles.

The concept here is mystery: Catholicism exudes mystery and the doors should convey that experience.

Additional entrances should be treated in the same way except, perhaps, in scale. Marian and saint themes might be best at those entrances. (A “Marian” door and a “Saint Pius Tenth” door would be nice.)

4. Yes, the baptismal font should be right inside the main doors. I prefer the combination pool and pedestal style. Whatever it is, include imagery of the Baptism of Christ as part of it. At least that. There are plenty of other figurative baptismal imagery from our Catholic past that could be used.

5. At the far end opposite the main doors and font should be the altar, freestanding and covered by a beautiful ciborium (if the building is Classical, Romanesque or Byzantine) or a baldachin (if the architecture is Classical or Baroque).

The altar itself should be stone or at least one with marble facing and sculpted on all four sides, perhaps with the Last Supper on the front and scenes of Old Testament prefiguring of the Eucharist –Melchizedek, Sacrifice of Abraham, multiplication of the loaves and fish– on the sides.

The altar should be raised on a platform, 3 steps high. Some kind of railing or boundary should enclose the chancel marking off the space of the chancel as special.

6. For the love of God, visually center the Tabernacle in the church. It’s the Catholic thing to do. I prefer that the Tabernacle look like a temple or an ark. Images of angels all around the space, please.

7. Lavish the inside and outside of the building with images of saints and Biblical scenes carefully programmed to reinforce Christian teaching and that convey a sense of hierarchy of theology as one moves from the doors to the altar. Include rich patterns, especially in and near the chancel that suggest a king’s chamber or a paradise.

8. Please, original works of art only –created by liturgical artists with training in traditional Catholic styles! No insect-like figures. The best figurative styles to use as a guide can be found in our rich Catholic tradition: Gothic, Baroque, Byzantine, and even Art Nouveau. Avoid Realism. Figures should express a sense of being redeemed, transformed by grace, transfigured. They are in heaven and should appear noticeably ‘better’ than they would on earth.

Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau Style

9. After all that –and only after all that– you can concentrate on bathrooms, building community, and respecting diversity. Anyway, those are things of concern like coffee hours, movie nights, social justice committees, Rosary Society, Knights of Columbus, youth organizations, choir. You should have all those things already.

Can’t wait for my invite! Excited!

A real Catholic church -maybe?

February 5th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

With trepidation I began reading Annette Jiménez’s Catholic Courier article on the rebuilding of Saint Pius Tenth Church. The older building, you will recall, was destroyed by a fire January 2015. As I began reading I feared that the diocese may soon have yet another “worship space” designed according to the heresy of Arianism.

Since Vatican II, church buildings have increasingly underplayed the transcendent and emphasized the merely horizontal, earthly “community”. For many years now we have been hearing about the human Jesus (our brother) and practically nothing about the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

Sure enough there were quotes and paraphrases in the article from the rebuilding committee concerning “nurturing community” and “diversity” and concern for “future generations”. And, there was nothing said about the church building as a temple for the holy sacrifice of the Mass, a place where heaven and earth meet. Nothing about the church building as an earthly foretaste of heaven. Nothing about beauty, nothing about art.

At least there was something about “strengthening Catholic identity”. That caught my attention, and encouraged me. And, there was this from committee chairman Brian Porter: “From the altar out is really how it starts”. Encouraging.

I became very encouraged when I went back and reflected on the professionals working on the project; most notably, wonderful liturgical designer Rolf Rohn and Monsignor James Moroney, the rector of St. John Seminary in Boston and consultant to Rohn Associates. Monsignor Moroney, we read in the article, was recommended by Bishop Matano, a bishop who understands the importance of Catholic orthodoxy. This is great news! We may see a wonderfully new and truly Catholic Saint Pius Tenth church rise up on Chili Avenue.

Are we finally free of the likes of Sovik and Vosko? Are we going to be building Catholic churches again? Let us pray!

Check out the Rohn & Associates Design website and see why I think its involvement bodes well for the rebuilding.


Blessing of Throats at Thomas the Apostle

February 1st, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie
Father Dennis Bonsignore, Chaplain of the Latin Mass Community, blesses throats at the January 31 Latin Mass in Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit.

Father Dennis Bonsignore, Chaplain of the Latin Mass Community, blesses throats at the January 31 Latin Mass in Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit. A brief video of the blessing at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church can be viewed HERE.

Saint Blaise Blessing of Throats took place at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit at both the Ordinary and Extraordinary (Traditional Latin Mass) forms of the Mass. Father Dennis Bonsignore, Chaplain of the Latin Mass Community, devoted part of his sermon to explaining the long-standing tradition of the blessing of throats and its origin in the hagiography of Saint Blaise.

A short video of the life of Saint Blaise can be viewed HERE.







Disappointing the Progressives

January 28th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From the National Catholic Register (by writer Glenn Stanton)

Pope Francis has once again put a substantial dent in the hopes of “progressives” that the Church will finally… MORE

Read more HERE

The Meaning(s) of Holy Thursday Feet Washing

January 26th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie
From the National Catholic Register
Liturgical Change Is Afoot in the Catholic Church

Master of the Housebook (fl. between 1475 and 1500) Link back to Creator infobox templateThe work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Artist: Master of the Housebook, from a “Passionsaltar”. (fl. between 1475 and 1500) *

Pope Francis has approved the practice of permitting women to have their feet washed, alongside of men, in the Holy Thursday mandatum liturgical ceremony. Francis himself has…

Read more HERE


*The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction there of are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Josep Obiols, An “Other Modern” Artist

January 24th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From the New Liturgical Movement website and Matthew Alderman

pintures-josep-obiols-redim-w500-h500From time to time, the New Liturgical Movement covers the work of artists and architects from recent history, whose work, while “modern,” nonetheless took a different and more traditional path than that of the “modernism” of Le Corbusier or Picasso, a path which we call “the Other Modern.”

Read more about one such artist HERE

Basic Christian Iconography: The Cross (Part 3)

January 23rd, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously: Part 1, Part 2

The Undisguised, Unambiguous or Plain Cross

Two events that took place toward the middle of the 4th century may have created an atmosphere in which the unambiguous cross and even the crucifixion could become the preeminent symbol(s) of Christianity. The first event was the discovery, in Jerusalem, of the actual cross upon which Jesus was crucified and, second, the banning of crucifixion as a form of capital punishment.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher (and location of Golgotha.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher (and location of Golgotha).

In 326 the bishop of Jerusalem had the site of Calvary (Golgotha) excavated in preparation for the construction of a large church over the place of Christ’s crucifixion. Helena, the mother of Constantine, traveled to Jerusalem in 327 and devoted her efforts and prayers to finding –at the excavation site– the actual cross of Christ’s sacrifice. The sign that Pilate had placed on the cross “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” was found but unattached to any post or beam. How the rest of the cross came to be identified is the subject of speculation. At any rate, the “true” cross had been found. Soon that cross became the foremost object of veneration in Jerusalem. Small fragments (relics) of the cross spread across the Christian world.

Some scholars are of the opinion that by the 4th century execution by crucifixion was already falling out of favor across the known world.  Some argue that Constantine banned crucifixion –he probably did– out of respect for the way Christ died. Others claim that crucifixion was eventually banned as a simple trend towards more humane behavior and that piety had nothing to do with it. Whatever the cause, crucifixion gradually fell from public consciousness after a generation or so.

The eclipse of crucifixion as a form of capital punishment and the development of Golgotha as a site of pilgrimage –as well as the subsequent dispersal of fragments of the true cross across the Christian world– led to a change of attitude regarding the avoidance of the image of the plain cross in Christian art.

Apse Mosaic in Santa Pudenziana, Rome, ca. 400

Apse Mosaic in Santa Pudenziana, Rome, ca. 400

In 420 a large gold, gem encrusted cross (crux gemmata) was erected on the rock of Golgotha. That cross may have been one of the very first appearances of the unambiguous Christian cross. The Golgotha cross no longer exits but an image of it appears in the apse mosaic at the church of Santa Pudenziana, in Rome. In the mosaic, the rock of Golgotha has steps cut into it and the cross is depicted as made of gold and precious gemstones, an image that corresponds to the written accounts of early Christian pilgrims who visited the site.


Bobbio flask (ampullae) 6th c. By an unknown handicraft worker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Picture Source.

Solidus (Coin) of Tiberius II, A.D. 57882. Byzantine, minted in Constantinople. Gold; 4.44 g. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Mrs. Emily Crane Chadbourne, 1940.15.

Solidus (Coin) of Tiberius II, A.D. 572-582. Byzantine, minted in Constantinople. Gold. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Mrs. Emily Crane Chadbourne, 1940.15. Picture Source.

Many of the earliest depictions of the cross are on small flasks (ampullae) for holy oil that were pilgrim’s souvenirs from the Holy Land. These ampullae crosses may be depictions of the gem cross.

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Apse Mosaic. Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe. Ravenna (Province of Ravenna. Emilia-Romagna Region) ITALY. Picture Source.



Enthroned Gem Cross.


Santi Cosma e Damiano chancel mosaic, 6th c. Picture Source.

Depictions in the art of the period sometimes indicate the use of the cross as a stand-in for Christ himself. This can best be seen in the 6th century apse mosaic in the church of Sant’ Appollinare of Classe, Italy. The mosaic depicts the transfiguration of the Jesus: Moses and Elijah flank a disk containing an image of a gold, jeweled cross with a small medallion of the bust of Christ at the crossing. It’s the same type of cross as the one shown in the Santa Pudenziana mosaic. A star-filled sky surrounds the cross. Peter, James and John are represented by lambs in a paradise-like garden. Finally, the Hand of God hovers over the scene. The cross in this program represents Jesus and not the crucifixion. The cross in the Santa Pudenziana, however, is meant to identify the cityscape as that of Jerusalem and so it represents the site of the crucifixion.

The Crucifix or Crucifixion Crosses
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Drawing of an intaglio in the British Museum. Picture Source .

A very small intaglio found in Romania may be one of the earliest representations of the crucifixion of Jesus. It is dated to the 3rd or 4th century. If it is from the 200s then we really have a very early representation of not just the cross but of a crucifix (or a possible narrative of the crucifixion). However, the inscription is J(esus) Ch(rist)] S(on) [of G(od)] S(aviour) and the 12 apostles are shown, 6 to each side of the cross. Saint John was the only apostle at the crucifixion; the others had fled in fear just after Jesus was taken prisoner. They were not standing at the foot of the cross. The presence of all the apostles suggest that perhaps the image has a dogmatic or symbolic meaning that is in addition to the Gospel narrative. In addition Christ’s body is not actually attached to the wooden cross and his arms are posed in the orans position of prayer.

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Crucifixion Panel from the wooden doors of Santa Sabina church in Rome. Picture Source.

Another one of the early appearances of the crucifixion in Christian art is from a set of wooden church doors from the early 5th century (422-433). The doors consist of panels showing scenes from both Testaments. The panel thought to represent the crucifixion occupies the very upper left corner of the left door. The scene is somewhat ambiguous. Three standing nude male figures in loin cloths are arranged next to each other horizontally, as we imagine the crucifixion might have looked like. The center figure is larger suggesting the figure of Jesus. The other two are thought to be the “good” and “bad” thieves. But, all three figures are in the orans position of prayer. They do not seem to be suffering crucifixion –the arms are not pulled straight from the tug of body weight as they would be from crucifixion. Adding to the ambiguity is the absence of any vertical posts or horizontal beams that would form crosses. Rather, three pitched roofs or pediments are supported by vertical posts, located between the figures, suggesting architecture. A window can be seen in the left pediment. If we compare this image with the much smaller intaglio we just looked at we can see that the figures are in the same orans pose but the intaglio is much more descriptive; we can see the cross. Why did the door carver leave out the crosses? On the other hand, why did the intaglio artist include the 12 apostles? It would seem that these first appearances of the crucifix or crucifixion scenes suggest a period of searching for the proper reason for depicting the crucifixion. Should it be depicted in order to identify/symbolize Jesus or to relate the Gospel narrative.

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Carved Ivory Casket (box). ca. 420-30

A carving on an ivory casket (small box) may be even earlier (420-430). This is obviously a narrative crucifixion and not just a more descriptive symbol. True to the Gospel narrative Mary and Saint John as well as Longinus, the Roman soldier, are included in the scene. Adjacent to the scene on the left is a depiction of Judas hanging himself. Other scenes from the passion occupy other sides of the casket. This casket obviously narrates a story.

What is interesting in the casket carving, however, is something that can be seen in many of the early depictions of the crucifixion; Jesus does not appear to be dead or even suffering. The common explanation is that the savior’s divinity was being suggested by a figure that does not appear to be suffering. It’s a difficult problem for an artist to show: humanity and divinity united –but still separate– in one person. Artists solved the problem by depicting a crucified human figure with an emotion suggestive of divine peace.

The crucified Christ with the presence of Mary, John, and Longinus became the basic icon of narrative crucifixion scenes.

We have gone a bit beyond the evolution of the cross as the symbol of Christianity; we have gone from the Gospel narrative to a visual symbol (the plain cross) and then to pictorial narrative (crucifix/crucifixion scene).

Interesting Critique: “A Tale of Two Churches”

January 18th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From The Catholic World Report

by Aurora C. Griffin

The final scene of Disney’s masterpiece Fantasia shows a group of monks processing through the forest at dawn, with Schubert’s “Ave Maria” playing softly in the background. As they walk and pray with their candles, the trees before them begin to join together at the tops, forming what are unmistakably… 

More here.

See a video of the interior of La Sagrada Familia HERE. Don’t let the introductory music turn you off. Stay with it.

See a short video of the interior of the Seville Cathedral HERE.

Video Clip of Epiphany Mass at Saint Alban

January 15th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

Below is a link to a one minute video clip of the Mass of Epiphany celebrated at the Fellowship of Saint Alban. It was –perhaps– the only Mass of Epiphany actually celebrated on January 6th in this area, the traditional date of Epiphany. The church building is the original Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta, in which the Fellowship celebrates Mass each week.

The Saint Alban community has a website with lots of information about the group. Visit it for Mass times and other details. There is a Mass tomorrow, January 16, at 6pm.

Clip of the Mass for Epiphany –Fr. Jason Catania, celebrant.

Website of the Fellowship of Saint Alban

Keeping Christ in Christmas: Displays of Domestic Crèche Scenes

January 7th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie
Crèche display at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, New York.

Crèche display at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, New York.

For eleven years Sacred Heart Cathedral has displayed crèches from around the world. I believe crèches from a collection at the University of Dayton are often featured. This year’s display is running until this Sunday and is worth a last minute trip to view.

One of the display cases at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

One of the display cases at the Saint Jerome exhibit.

A display of crèches was also offered this year at Saint Jerome Church in East Rochester but I think that one has come down.

Many years ago there was a show of crèches that were family favorites of parishioners at Saint Anne Church in Rochester. An inexpensive book was produced showing each crèche with an accompanying family story about the use of its crèche. Participating parishioners sacrificed the use of their crèches that year in order to share them with other parishioners and those visiting to see the display; a nice way to keep Christ in Christmas!

shc2015 2b

Each case in the exhibits at both Sacred Heart Cathedral and at St. Jerome’s display multiple crèches.

Local collector, John Larish, has been the motivating force behind all of these displays. If you wish to contact him, send me an email ( and I will put you in touch with him.

Should we hold hands during the “Our Father”?

January 7th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From the Aleteia website:

During the Mass, we have two important moments: the Consecration and Communion. There – during the Mass – is where we find our unity; that is where we join ourselves to Christ and in Christ, through the common priesthood of the faithful. Holding hands is…

Read more HERE

Picture of the Year 2015

January 5th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

From the New Liturgical Movement website

Click on this link to view image – Picture of the Year