Wednesday, April 29, 2009

St. Francis de Sales, "The Cathedral of South St. Louis"

I've often driven past this beautiful church on my way to pick up San Jose Volunteer from her child care job, but I never saw the interior until this past Sunday. Texas Volunteer and I ventured out to the Extraordinary Form (Pre-Vatican II) Latin High Mass at the St. Francis de Sales Oratory. It was my first time at a Mass like that. Despite my growing interest in the EF and my knowledge of Latin, I had mixed emotions when I actually experienced it. It was confusing and frustrating to worship in a way almost completely unlike the Masses I know. I'll have to give the EF another try after I have learned more about it.

Luckily the architecture of the church was easy to love. This soaring Gothic Revival building was completed in 1908 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. German dedications on the stained glass windows remind vistors of the immigrants who labored to build the church.

The 300-foot steeple is visible from several blocks away but badly in need of repair. There's a capital campaign underway to help restore "The Leaning Tower of St. Louis." It was so windy on Sunday we thought the tower mightjust blow over!

Inside, the 52-foot reredos makes the sanctuary the focal point and draws the eye upward. The statues of Mary and John at the Crucifixion remind worshipers what the Mass is all about.
The intricately carved pulpit on the left has panels depicting the four Evangelists.

The angels are watching the Mass too!

I was very impressed by the diligence and reverence of all the altar boys. Maybe if we had sat in a pew this close up the 130-foot aisle we would have a had a better idea of what was going on at Mass.

The nave is also full of artwork and symbolism. Here's the Annunciation fresco in the left transept, above the side altar to the Infant of Prague

Fresco of the Fall of Man in the right transept. The side altar honors Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a patroness of the Institute of Christ the King which staffs the St. Francis de Sales Oratory.

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