Detroit: 18 March TLM @ National Shrine of The Little Flower

From a reader.  The info sent in the e-mail was a little thin and it was too much work to dig for more.  But I can pass this on.

The Archdiocese of Detroit’s largest parishes in terms of the number of registered families,

With over 12,000 parishioners and elementary, middle, and high schools.  The National Shrine of The Little Flower will host a special Tridentine Mass on Wednesday March 18 at 7:00.  More details can be found here.

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  1. I wonder whether the National Shrine of the Little Flower was the country’s first Catholic church “in the round”. Built in the 1930’s by Fr. Coughlin, the famous “radio prist”, seating about 3000, it was actually octagonal with the altar in the center, surrounded by a circular altar rail at which people knelt all around for Holy Communion. So it might be said that, from the beginning, Mass there was celebrated ad orientem for some, versus populum for others.

  2. Henry, I believe you are correct.

    I took pictures at Shrine of the Little Flower this past fall, when Bishop Flores led a Helper’s of God’s Precious Infants prayer vigil outside of an abortion clinic. We always start out with Mass led by a bishop or monsignor, then head out to the clinic in procession (200-300) pray all mysteries of the Rosary and head back for Benediction.

    You can catch some of the architecture in this post. I will try to make this Mass as it will be interesting to see how the usus antiquior will be celebrated. I don’t like churches in the round, but this one is somewhat of an exception as it kept much of the beautiful, traditional artwork. However, I wonder how they will deal with Communion. I don’t recall if there were true kneelers any longer, or if those were jack-hammered out.

  3. I should add that if you visit the photopost I mentioned above, you will want to scroll through the entire thing as there are more church pictures near the bottom when Benediction took place.

    However, the PDF file probably has the best bird’s eye view.

    And, it does state that it was the home of Fr. Coughlin.

  4. Fr. Totton says:

    I believe the communion rail is still intact (if not used all that often) at the Shrine of the Little Flower. I said Mass there shortly after my ordination five years ago.

  5. TA1275 says:

    St. John (the beloved?), in Mclean, VA, is in the round and they have a weekly Tirdentine Mass. It is a bit odd, but it works.

  6. LCB says:

    Fr. Coughlin built The National Shrine of the Little Flower? I had no idea,and in the round no less. Aren’t the little historical tidbits like that just fascinating?

    In one 20th century american history class we spent an entire day listening to one of Fr. Coughlin’s most famous radio addresses, and heard the oft repeated “Roosevelt and Ruin!” The man could speak.

  7. LeonG says:


  8. Andrew A says:

    I wonder if people will be in front of the priest at the alter when he says Mass.

  9. Mark says:

    My father told me that Father Coughlin had the Shrine built after an arson destroyed the original church. I’ not sure if that’s true or not. I was married at that Church, it’s beautiful.

  10. Andrew: I wonder if people will be in front of the priest at the alter when he says Mass.

    Yes, if seating is as it was originally. Old pictures dating back to the 1930’s show the TLM celebrated there with people surrounding the altar in circular seating on all sides. A wag once suggested that a truly innovative approach would have put the altar on a revolving platform, so the Mass would have been versus populum for everyone at least part of the time.

  11. Frank H. says:

    The history of the Shrine can be read here…

  12. irishgirl says:

    The Shrine used to be in Chicago. In the 1920s Fr. Albert Dolan, the founder of the Society of the Little Flower, traveled to France to visit Lisieux and other places associated with St. Therese. After amny difficulties, he interviewed her four sisters in their convents in Lisieux and Caen, as well as her cousin who was a widow. He brought back to the States the largest collection of Theresian relics outside of France, many of which were given by Pauline, Therese’s ‘little mother’.

    I had no idea that Fr. Coughlin had anything to do with the Shrine.

    After the fire in the original Shrine church, it was going to be demolished. But the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest purchased it, and it is being restored as a Shrine of Divine Mercy.

  13. I’m sure this distinction has been made before regarding Mass celebrated at St. Peter’s Bascilica in Rome, but there is frequently a grand interior difference between celebrating Mass ad orientem and versus populum. Frequently the Mass celebrated versus populum is celebrated to or toward the people as though the priest is giving a performance for them as they watch. This is the qualitative difference that is less likely to happen when Mass is celebrated ad orientem. Even if a priest celebrating Mass versus populum but is interiorly oriented toward the Lord as the One to Whom he is offering the Mass, it is likely in our culture that the faithful present at Mass will take on the interior disposition of observers passively watching something happen rather than prayerfully engaging in actuosa participatio.

    That said, I think it likely that the altar at the Shrine was set up in the “Benedictine” fashion and that the interior disposition was not toward the people but toward the Lord, even if, for some, the actual spatial direction was toward the people.

  14. Jackie says:

    I had heard that Fr. Coughlin had originally wanted to build an East facing church with a beautiful high altar and reredos, but the architects told him that the ground on which the church was going to be built was weak and needed to have the weight more evenly distributed so he instead built a church in the round.

  15. Boston Architect says:

    Another “Church in the Round” of the same era (built in 1930) is the the Coliseum (church) of the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs overlooking the Mohawk Valley in Ariesville, NY. It is actually divided into four quadrants. It is unclear to me if four simaltaneous Masses have ever been celebrated for pilgims. The High Altar is constructed in a rustic “log stockade” style common in frontier outpost architecture common at the time of the French Jesuit Missionaries (1640’s). The construction detailing of the building has often reminded me of brick and steel railroad locomotive (roundhouse) facilities of the early 20th century (albeit much nicer).In recent years (being very un-PC), it has unfortunately become a bit of a Jesuit backwater. Anyhow, a gem to be rediscovered.

    For many years my wife and I have attended the Solemn High Mass at this Shrine following the annual that is typically in late September around the Feast of the North American

    “Pilgrimage for Restoration”

  16. irishgirl says:

    Hey Boston Architect-you beat me to the punch about Auriesville!

    I live an hour away from there!

    Did you see the picture in the Coliseum when Cardinal Cushing said Mass in the late 50s or early 60s? The place was packed!

    I’ve also been to the ‘Pilgrimage for Restoration’; I don’t do the ‘hike’ from Fonda to Auriesville, but I carry a replica of St. Joan of Arc’s battle standard in the procession from the main gate to the Coliseum.

    You may already know this-but Cardinal Avery Dulles is [or will be once spring comes] buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at the top of the Hill of Prayer.

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