VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — In a March 14 message to the Pontifical Academies on the occasion of their 26th public session, Pope Francis congratulated the recipients of two awards given by the Academies for work in sacred architecture.
The public session, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi at the Pantheon, was dedicated to sacred architecture. The gold medal was awarded to the OPPS Architecture studio in Florence for its work on a chapel in Rome belonging to the Foundation of Saints Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, “an intervention of liturgical renovation and adaptation” in the Pope’s words.
The silver medal went to architect Federica Frino for a new church dedicated to St. Thomas in the town of Pontedera in central Italy.
The criteria for the awards were the “design, furnishing, liturgical adaptation, renovation, and reuse of spaces dedicated to worship, taking into account new requirements and contemporary architectural language.”
In remarks to the Pontifical Academies, Pope Francis said that “it is essential to rediscover the symbolic language and to be capable of understanding it.” The Pope also stated that “another essential aspect is that of the inspiration of artistic and architectural creativity, which in the Christian vision springs precisely from the liturgical life, from the action of the Spirit and not only from human subjectivity.”
It is notable that the work for which both awards were given lack the rich symbolism of traditional Catholic art and utterly fail to adorn the altar, sanctuary, or chapel as whole with any precious material: apparently no marble, granite, or beautifully colored surfaces, no statues, icons, mosaics, frescoes, oil paintings, or tapestries; a cross with no corpus, a cross with a corpus disproportionately small; bare walls, bare altars, an unadorned box for the tabernacle, and no candles.
If the architectural space of a church or chapel is intended to raise one’s thoughts and heart to God in prayer, these “sacred spaces” would only seem to inspire are blank and dreary thoughts.
A second notable observation is that if, as Pope Francis says, “the inspiration of artistic and architectural creativity” for a sacred space of divine worship “springs precisely from the liturgical life,” then the liturgy that has given inspiration to such architectural designs is utterly devoid of beauty.
When Catholics look upon the grandeur and beauty of the Roman basilicas or the cathedrals and churches that arose in the middle ages and the Renaissance throughout Christian Europe, they can see in the architecture and sacred art of century after century an authentically Catholic expression of what befits the worship of God, the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the chanting of the divine praises, and the honoring of the saints.
Ecclesiastical architecture is indeed fitted to and inspired by the liturgy conducted in the sacred space set apart for divine worship. It is for this reason that the changes in the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council have also seen such drastic changes in Church architecture. The common experience of Catholics today is that a love of a more traditional liturgy goes hand in hand with a love for a more traditional style of sacred art and sacred architecture. Or put another way, love of an authentically Catholic liturgy, unadulterated by modernist, Protestant, masonic, or pagan elements, inspires also a love for authentically Catholic sacred art and authentically Catholic sacred architecture.
As one report commented on the awards from the Pontifical Academies, “The winning projects express well the emptiness, secularization, brutality, decay, and ugliness of the Novus Ordo.”
The granting of the awards comes amid great liturgical tumult in the Church that reveals some fundamental problems regarding the understanding of some within the Church, even at the highest levels of the hierarchy, of the worship of God.
At the same time, the ancient liturgical form of the Roman Rite, the Traditional Latin Mass — whose origins go back to the Apostles Peter and Paul, and whose development was perfected by Sts. Gregory the Great, Pius V, and Pius X — is being systematically curtailed by authorities in Rome, with an attempted suppression rumored to be imminent. Meanwhile, in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Latin America, and Mexico, liturgical abuses run rampant, including “blessings” of same-sex unions, women “concelebrants” at Mass, liturgies dressed up for the LGBT, a push for women “deacons,” “transsexual” priests, and now, as LifeSiteNews has reported, the introduction of full-blown idolatrous, pagan rituals of nature worship, with Mexican bishops proposing a Mayan rite of the Mass.
READ: The new Mayan rite of Mass encouraged by Pope Francis is replete with pagan idolatry and symbolism
These liturgical fights and abuses are not small nothings taking place in fringe corners of the Church. Bihops’ conferences have proposed and backed heterodox liturgical changes. What we are seeing within the Church right now is a fight over whether we will worship the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ in a manner faithful to that handed down to us by the Apostles, Fathers, and Saints of the Church, or whether we will adapt to the influences of un-Catholic Protestants, or unbelieving modernists, masons, and idolatrous pagans. If the latter, as is already happening, we will end up worshiping the golden calf of free sex in whatever form our increasingly perverse culture dictates, and along with that, the gods and goddesses of nature such as the Pachamama, the fertility goddess of the earth who demands child sacrifice.
If instead we would worship God rightly, we return to a sacred art and architecture both beautiful and worthy of Him and His service.
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