SACRED ART & ARCHITECTURE
AT ST. BARTHOLOMEW
In his introduction to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Works of art always ‘speak,’ at least implicitly, of the divine, of the infinite beauty of God… Sacred images, with their beauty, are also a Gospel proclamation and express the splendor of the Catholic truth… They urge one and all, believers and non-believers alike, to discover and contemplate the inexhaustible fascination of the mystery of the Redemption, giving an ever new impulse to the lively process of its inculturation in time.”
The St. Bartholomew Catholic Faith Community has taken these words seriously. Our commitment to outstanding sacred art and architecture expresses our desire to glorify God and draw people closer to him. Through quality art and architecture, we seek, as the Holy Father says:
· To proclaim the Gospel
· To express the splendor of the Catholic truth
· To reflect the sublime beauty of God
· To appeal to believers and non-believers alike – to evangelize
· To invite all to contemplate the inexpressible mystery of the Redemption
· To express these mysteries in a way that reflects our present culture
We hope that this introduction to Sacred Art and Architecture at St. Bartholomew will help you to do the same!
In the Sanctuary
Crucifix & Stained Glass Window
The bronze corpus and stained glass window in the sanctuary were created by renowned liturgical artist John Collier in 2010. This centerpiece of our worship space makes incarnate the words of Jesus to our patron, Saint Bartholomew: “You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). In addition, the corpus depicts Jesus in the midst of his crucifixion – both pushing himself up on the cross so that he might breathe, and also pushing himself upward and outward – offering himself as a sacrifice to the Father – that same sacrifice which the church offers at each celebration of the Eucharist on the altar below.
The Holy Family Sculpture
The bronze sculpture of The Holy Family at St. Bartholomew embodies the words of Jesus spoken to his disciples: "Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matthew 12:50). Jesus enlarges the circle of his family; he invites us to see ourselves as members of the Holy Family. The Holy Family at St. Bartholomew is an artistic reflection on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is hoped that all who view this work will seek to obtain the Pearl of Great Price – will seek to follow Jesus on his Way of the Cross – will seek to be brothers and sisters in the Lord and brothers and sisters of the Lord – members of the Holy Family. The Holy Family sculpture, installed in fall 2012, is the work of the noted liturgical artist, John Collier, who also created the bronze corpus and stained glass window in the sanctuary at St. Bartholomew.
Parishioner Joan Semmer donated this Pieta, painted by Sr. Mary Thomas, a cloistered nun at Adoration Monastery in Cleveland, Ohio in memory of her son, Phillip, who was killed in a car accident in 2000. Sr. Mary Thomas wanted the painting to be full of hope and positive focus. The faces of Mary and Jesus show the love of mother and son and Jesus looks peaceful, yet excited with the anticipation of going to his father as he looks upward. "May you take time to study the strength and nuance of this amazing piece and remember the unbelievable gift of love and friendship behind every stroke," says Joan.
The Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross at St. Bartholomew are intended to be faithful to the true purpose of the Stations – not as pictures for us to admire, but as a path of prayer for us to walk. The Christian devotion of praying the Stations of the Cross began in the earliest centuries after Christ when pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem would walk along the Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross), today referred to as the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Sorrows). This practice continued for a thousand years, but only in Jerusalem. Beginning in the 14th century, the Franciscans brought this devotional practice to Europe. A series of shrines would be established along a route, and pilgrims would journey from one Station to the next. Eventually, the Stations were moved inside the church, and as the centuries passed, it became common for them to be seen as pictures on the wall of the church rather than a path of prayer to serve a stational (moving) devotion. Rather than being installed as pictures on the wall, our Stations are large bronze plates that are embedded in the floor and run the perimeter of the entire church. This allows a participant to actually walk the Way of the Cross, stopping at each Station to pray and reflect upon the image, which makes for a truly tactile and stational experience of meditating on the Lord’s passion.
Furnishings & Architecture
The altar is made of “Mountain Green” granite – a handsome and fitting material for an altar which is at the center of our lives as Catholics – the place where we offer the sacrifice of the Lord and celebrate his meal of thanksgiving. The altar effectively bridges the tension between “altar of the sacrifice” and “table of the meal.” It’s fixed and immovable; the fact that it is made of stone with a massive stone mensa (top) conveys the image of "altar of the sacrifice.” The top is supported by four large round legs (columns) also made of stone, which conveys the image of “table of the meal.”
The ambo (lectern) from which God’s word is proclaimed is similar in design and shape to the altar, thereby emphasizing the desired harmonious and close relationship to one another in order to emphasize the close relationship between word and Eucharist. The stationary ambo is constructed of the same “Mountain Green” granite as the altar and was also designed by Fr. Jim Notebaart, who served as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops on church art and architecture.
The Baptismal Font
As you enter the central doors of the church, you find a large, permanent baptismal font, which is used not only in the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism but also serves as a reminder to those entering the space that they are born into life in Christ through these living waters. Placed at the main entrance to the worship space where all worshippers pass regularly, the font is set on the same architectural axis with the altar. The font is a single large pool to be used for the baptism of infants and adults and allows for either immersion or infusion. It has eight sides, symbolizing the “eighth day” of the resurrection and entrance into eternal life and is made of the same “Mountain Green” granite as the altar and the ambo, establishing the fonts connection to these other sacraments.
The tabernacle has been placed some distance away from the altar so that it does not draw the attention of the faithful away from the eucharistic celebration. It is set apart and framed by the same Jerusalem stone used in the sanctuary, with a long narrow window just behind the tabernacle – a shaft of light piercing the darkness. Constructed of bronze and gold with just a bit of teak wood trim, the tabernacle is solid, immovable, opaque, and locked. With a wax candle sanctuary lamp suspended above it, the tabernacle is placed in a special area, prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer.
The Respository of the Word
The Repository of the Word provides a dignified place to enthrone God's word when it is not being used in our celebration of the Eucharist – a beautiful reminder that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” In our Repository of the Word, the bronze grills are designed to look like natural plants reminding us that the word of God is true nourishment and life for all who follow that word.
The Pipe Organ
The St. Bartholomew Reuter pipe organ, installed in the fall of 2007, is truly the realization of a “pipe dream.” This instrument, originally built for St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park in 1973, became available when that congregation closed its doors in 2006. The summer of 2007 involved the construction of new parts of the organ, refurbishing of existing portions of the instrument and combining new and old into the instrument that would be installed here. Many parishioners helped remove the organ from its old home and then helped with the installation of placing the 2,267 pipes in their new home. What was once a “pipe dream” has now become a reality as the inspiring sounds of “The King of Instruments” leads the worship of the St. Bartholomew parish community.
The altar platform of our sanctuary is covered with Jerusalem Stone tile imported from Israel. The tile is brushed to create a worn or "distressed" look similar to the paving stones in Jerusalem today. The front wall (behind the altar) is a concave curved wall covered with large blocks of Jerusalem Stone - our own "Western Wall." This stone is flamed and brushed which really brings out the beauty and variegated color of the stone. The walls at the tabernacle and at the main entrance near the baptismal font are also clad with this same pale gold Jerusalem Stone. This choice of stone provides us a space that is not only uniquely beautiful, but also geologically linked with the land of Jesus. The stones themselves might inspire us to "cry out" in praise of our Lord who comes in humility - riding on a colt - to save us.