WDTPRS POLL: sanctuary design for Pope Benedict’s visit to England

UPDATE: 1 Sept 17:52 GMT:

I see that England’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald has linked to this post.  Perhaps you readers might reciprocate and contribute well-considered and respectful comments in the discussion over there as well.


I dunno…  I need a WDTPRS POLL on this.

Damian posted this at his place.

This image of the sanctuary for the Beatification of John Henry Newman by the Pope at  has just been published on the papal visit website.

What do you think?

design for Pope Benedict's Mass at Cofton Park, England, for the Beatification of John Henry Newman

There are more photos at the papal visit website if you want more angles.

Please pick the best response and then give your reasons in the combox, below.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Thomas in MD says:

    Are the space aliens actually beaming His Holiness up after Mass?

  2. Cristero says:

    AAAACH!! Das ist zum Kozten!

  3. meunke says:

    Isn’t this the same layout as the bridge of the USS Enterprise on The Next Generation?

    Will Ensign Crusher be there behind the altar doing the ceremony while the Holy Father gives orders?


  4. capebretoner says:

    I agree with some of the comments on Mr. Thompson’s site. This looks like something that could have come right out of Xenu.

  5. ipadre says:

    Many are either ignorant of the Holy Father’s views on Liturgy, or they are purposely avoiding and trying to thwart it! Every cleric, or every degree should be made to read The Spirit of the Liturgy and every layman encouraged to read it. Along with The Spirit of the Liturgy, they should read Sacrosnanctum concilium. Together, SC and SotL are the vision for the future!!!

  6. Andy Milam says:

    1st response….

    How hard is it to actually have a Papal Mass in a church? Why is it that since Pope Paul VI, most Masses have to be outdoors? With cctv and the like, there is no reason why we can’t move the Holy Father back to where he belongs…..in a church at a permanent and fixed altar.

    Also, whomever is in charge of these designs, regardless of the locale, seems to be a holdover from the 1970s. They are simply garish and dated in design…..certainly not dignified for the Vicar of Christ, especially when there are cathedrals and/or churches that will hold several thousand people.


  7. medievalist says:

    “I give that design for tthe Pope’s Mass at Cofton Park my well-considered … ”

    thumbs down in the ancient Coliseum manner…as in, someone needs to have a quiet “word” with whoever designed and then approved this thing.

  8. Agnes says:

    If you have to do it in a football stadium, you at least have to make it look like you’re NOT doing it in a football stadium. *sigh* Response #2. I’ve seen worse. Don’t like it. It is spacey and ugly and modernist. Mass for the masses. But what else do you do when you’re talking more than several thousand – more like 50,000?

  9. One of those TNCs says:

    Well…I like the SIZE of the crucifix (but not necessarily its location) and I like the colors of the stained glass background…
    Why so much distance between the Pope’s chair and (what I assume to be) the altar? The whole thing looks pretty stark and cold, to me. I’d rather have a setting that shouts, “Catholic!!” And darn proud to be one, thank you!

  10. Father Flores says:

    It’s so….nondescript. Is it that hard to build a Catholic sanctuary for a Catholic ceremony? They did it in 1926 in Chicago.


  11. raitchi2 says:

    A semi-thumbs down. I lost all hope and expectation in the hierarchy a long time ago.

  12. kab63 says:

    It’s a horrible mix of bouncy castle and airplane hangar.

  13. OH NO!
    Not another “Space Station” sanctuary.
    That is so….yesterday…circa 1969??

  14. B.C.M. says:

    Stabbing thumbs down.
    New age-y.
    Plus. Versus populum.
    Boo to that! I bite my thumb at these designers. Why is it that the sacred liturgy cannot take place in a PROPER place of worship? Would the Holy Father praying the Mass at the episcopal altar of the diocese kill someone? Why is it that age-old buildings and sacred spaces must be abandoned with age-old liturgy and decorum?

  15. Frank H says:

    Father Flores – Thanks for sharing. THAT looks Catholic!

  16. There may be Beatification taking place there; but this ain’t beautiful…uh,uh…

  17. Eoin Suibhne says:

    It looks like a box of Kleenex.

  18. Traductora says:

    Crystal Cathedral meets Star Wars meets the First Flaming Church of Holiness of the Prophet Mother Jones?

  19. mysticalrose says:

    And the Lord said . . . “Beam Me up Scottie…”

    I voted #1. This is ridiculous.

  20. Elly says:

    That’s sad. I didn’t think it was real at first.

  21. Doubtful Thomas says:

    The backdrop looks like a spider web.

  22. brjeromeleo says:

    At least there is a dominant crucifix, but other than that, I don’t like it.

  23. joanofarcfan says:

    Well, now maybe His Holiness will see what many of us have to put up with…and do something about it maybe?? Help!

  24. lofstrr says:

    My question is, do the liturgical weirdos of our faith do this sort of thing on purpose, that is, to zinger the Holy Father because they are upset about things or do they really thing this sort of thing looks good? I guess I just can’t figure out if they are stupid or mean spirited.

  25. irishgirl says:

    I voted for #2, so I wouldn’t get ‘flamed’ for what I really want to say….it’s UUUGGGLY!

    I’m with Andy Milam-why can’t it be in a REAL CHURCH?

    Seeing that ‘crucifix’, I’m thinking it’s not secured enough and it will fall down on the Holy Father. (God forbid!)

    This thing is SOOOO 1970S! But, I guess the organizers have to think of ‘costs’ and make it as ‘functional’ as possible.


  26. lofstrr says:

    Notice how they stairs split and basically force you to go around the alter rather than approach it directly. Got to make sure the Holy Father doesn’t pull a fast one and celebrate ad orientem.

  27. K. Marie says:

    Gag me with a spoon. That is horrible. It is offensive to the eyes and does nothing to promote paying attention during Mass.

  28. Robert_H says:

    K: Beam me up, Scotty.

    S: I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain. There’s just too much kitsch.

    K: Bones, can’t you do something?

    B: Jim, I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker.

  29. pelerin says:

    I had imagined that there would be plenty of Cardinal Red in the design for obvious reasons. Disappointed to see this is not the case – it reminds me of a toothpaste advertisement for some reason. Not sure why but I hope it will look less like a space ship interior in reality.

    I wonder where they are going to put the picture of Cardinal Newman? Don’t they always have a large picture of the person to be Beatified (or Canonised) at these ceremonies?

  30. frjim4321 says:

    The basic structure is determined by security needs. Decorative elements are secondary and must fit into the basic scheme. They must be able to keep the pope safe and evacuate him immediately. The main purpose of the sanctuary being the security of the pope there is only so much they can do to make it beautful. It’s basically a bomb shelter. You can’t turn it into a high design concept.

  31. ghlad says:

    Vatican II called… they want their Sanctuary back.

  32. ndmom says:

    Where are the transporter controls?
    This is a joke, right?

  33. GirlCanChant says:

    Why are they putting the Pope in a spaceship?

  34. Luke says:

    … thumbs down, but without too much rancor.

    Simply because I agree with Andy that the Pope would be better in a church at a fixed altar. The wooden Cross and Corpus are nice, but then they should be foundational at any Mass. It is difficult to understand who was given the lead to run off with this wild design. The major problem that I see in an outdoor setting is that lawn chairs make bad pews because people are often tempted not to kneel before our Eucharistic Lord and King.

    Hmmmm. . . . All that’s left to say is, “Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling sanctuary so that our hearts may speak to you instead of to one another.”

  35. Henry Edwards says:

    For no logical reason, my first thought at a glance was of USSR premier Nikita Kruschev’s visit to Washington, DC during the Sputnik era, when the Russians were (justifiably) fixated on the superiority of their rockets over U.S. rockets.

    So upon seeing the Washington Monument, Kruschev’s first remark was, “It’ll never get off the ground.”

    Though admittedly this thing looks less like a rocket than a cross-section of a hovercraft.

  36. MargaretC says:

    I found frjim4321’s comment interesting and took a second look at the photos on the web site. Now it all makes sense — the design gives the security team plenty of room to intercept Richard Dawson as he charges up the steps…

  37. wchoag says:

    So…is the opening hymn to be “If You Hie To Kolob”? It’s hymn #284, you know?

    Oh…and when do the lizard people from Niburu land?!

  38. Stu says:

    Oh, the humanity!

  39. JCCMADD says:

    It put the ug in ugly!

  40. baymedlevel says:


  41. moon1234 says:

    Makes the Church of England look Catholic!

  42. JonM says:

    Two thumb down. Stabbing down.

    It looks like a very traditional UN/freemasonic artifice.

  43. AnAmericanMother says:


    die Seele in dicken Brocken auf die Straße zum kotzen.

    Two thumbs down and beat it to death in the back yard with a tire iron (not worth the waste of a bullet).

    This is repulsive, hideous, tacky, dated, and disrespectful not only to the Holy Father but any human being with a trace of good taste.

    The crucifix appears to have been delivered here in error. Only proper thing in sight.

  44. AnAmericanMother says:

    Fr. Flores –

    How magnificent, and how fitting! They don’t install baldacchinos on Soldier Field like they used to . . . .

  45. Charliebird says:

    Looks like the stage for American Idol! Is that an altar or the judges’ bench?! Good grief!

  46. Charliebird says:

    Oh…I forgot to add: it makes me want to cry until I vomit. :()####

  47. Leonius says:

    A stage based on the designs from rock festivals is most fitting for what the leaflets about the papal masses are describing as liturgical entertainment.

    It is however profane and secular in appearance and therefore completely unsuitable for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Personally I would like to see these huge masses phased out altogether as it seems they are not able to be done with any amount of reverence.

  48. TJerome says:

    Maybe if His Holiness were more like a typical American actor or politician, he would have approval rights over where he appears. I would not appear here if I were Benedict and I would excommunicate whomever was responsible for this insult. Enough is enough.

  49. SimonDodd says:

    I agree with what has been said: Cold, modernist, generic, instantly-dated, and reminiscent of a cheap television contest. On the other hand, I think—or rather, I hope—frjim4321 called it right: it’s basically a beautified bomb shelter. We shouldn’t underestimate the need for security and the possibility of attention-seeking, stage invasion, or attempted violence against his Holiness.

  50. Fr_Sotelo says:

    John Henry Newman would be so proud, he would shake with emotion at seeing this modern version of the ancient catacombs and recall his famous work, “Callista: A Tale of the Third Century” while saying to himself, “thus rises the glory of the Church of Rome to vindicate the triumph of her martyrs! The majesty of the Roman Church has not been seen like this on English soil since Queen Mary Tudor returned her subjects to the papal obedience!”

  51. I am becoming less and less a fan of temporary worship spaces. They never seem to be built with even a veneer of permanence. Instead, they’re very super-modern, super-contemporary, here-today-gone-tomorrow. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

  52. thereseb says:

    I’m sure it will look much nicer and less like an intergalactic masonic gazebo when Mgr Marini has decked out the altar in silk, lace and a nice benedictine arrangement.

  53. Look on the bright side… at least we now have evidence that extra-terrestrials are Catholic. Sure, the liturgical trappings of the Centuri Rite seem a bit odd to us earthlings, but at least they know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

  54. Norah says:

    Pope Benedict doesn’t believe in imposing, he proposes and discusses and leads by example and tries to win people over by appealing to their intellect etc etc etc and then we have “sancturies” like this which show that the powers that be have either read nothing the Holy Father has written on the Liturgy or having read have decided to do the exact opposite. I think that a bit of imposing wouldn’t go astray. The Vatican could have asked to approve any design for furniture, settings etc instead of letting these people have their heads but that would be imposing wouldn’t it. The minimalist look is sooo dated. Would it have been so wrong to have a sanctuary which said “something special is going to happen here”?

  55. wanda says:

    Vincenzo! LOL! You’ve done it again!

  56. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’m not buying the security argument, myself. Too little support and shielding on the sides (open at eye level), and unless there’s a secret door there’s no evacuation route directly to the rear. And any temporary structure is not going to have much in the way of strength.

    And the argument is further weakened by the fact that the “decorative elements” are every bit as ugly and just as dated as the main structure. Trendy ‘modern’ circa 1971.

    I think that argument’s just a weak attempt at spinning this truly ugly design.

  57. DetJohn says:

    It looks like the Pope’s enemies are trying to give the Holy Father a stroke.

    This Sanctuary is one of the worse I have seen.

    I agree with joanofarcfan, The Holy Father will see what has been forced onto the faithful. Hopefully the Pope will do something about it.

    Basicly, It also looks as if the designers are telling The Holy Father, “We don’t like you and your tradition”

  58. AnAmericanMother says:

    Vincenzo – all we need is the cantina music. Well done.

  59. UncleBlobb says:

    Thank you frjim4321, I hadn’t thought of that practical reasoning. Still, I think the big statue from the top of the Paul VI hall would seem right at home in there.

  60. Roland de Chanson says:

    Bathhouse Basilica.

  61. This clearly couldn’t be a poor design by accident. Something so modernist ugly can only be done by intent. I wonder if the big round thing is a mirror. Hal, are you listening? No Dave…

  62. Once again, Maestro Vincenzo rocks!
    Okay, but now…that music…isn’t that more for someone like Obama or some other despot?
    (Did I really say that?)…Somehow it just doesn’t “fit” (the design nor the music) with PBVI.
    Maybe Mozart?
    But then, you’d have to have an actual beautiful and Baroque setting? What was I thinking:<)!

  63. Sorry…that should be PBXVI (not so good with Roman numerals!).

  64. cblanch says:

    I voted #1…and I’m a sci-fi fan. This is horrible! I see things like this and in my head hear a cheesy announcer saying, “Hey folks, this isn’t the Catholic Church your parents left…it’s got a fresh new look, and an exciting new message for the 21st century!” Blech! Or I imagine the PR nuts who put this together scheming about how to balance the Pope’s image, and coming up with this nightmare. I think it says a lot about how they regard the Pope.

  65. St Chad says:

    This papal pavilion is unspeakably bad design and fundamentally unchristian. To think that Cardinal Newman will ever be associated with this monstrosity is very disturbing. As others have suggested, knowing the likelihood that the English plan would be awful, the Pope’s delegate [his M.C., perhaps?] should have been on this, and required Vatican approval of the plans. You may be sure this was approved at the very highest levels in the English Church [i.e., by Westminster himself].

    I agree, as well, that the ceremonies of beatification should have been held in a church — Westminster Cathedral or one of the Oratory churches. These huge outdoor Masses simply should not be had … they encourage impiety.

    In fairness, however, you must admit that the pavilion does reflects the prevailing aesthetic of the Roman Catholic Church of today — tasteless, modern-secularist, democratic to a fault — the enduring legacy of the Second Vatican Council.

  66. Alien v. Predator MMLLLXXXXXIVIIIXXXXXM?

  67. erinalicia says:

    immediately reminded me of Charles De Gaulle airport…

  68. poohbear says:

    It looks likes a cross between a huge spider-like creature and the stargate.

    At least they included a crucifix.

  69. Where are the hay and tractors kept? (it looks like a farm storage shed)

    Vin: Nice!

  70. Marg says:

    This could be the beginning of the U.K.’s space program…what are they going to do with it after the Pope leaves anyway? Minus the Crucifix it belongs in space with the other “space shots”.

  71. annieoakley says:

    It looks like an Eskimo’s summer igloo.

  72. Luke says:

    Marq: Judging by the less than warm reception the Pope has gotten from the UK it is entirely possible that they intend to launch him first.

    I do wonder though: isn’t the Vatican able to approve or request a different. . . stage/sanctuary design. It looks a little more suited to a rock concert than a Mass.

  73. teaguytom says:

    I agree with Thereseb. Hopefully when Marini has things set up, it will appear more Catholic. The picture lacks the 6 candles and crucifix for the High altar/Benedictine arrangment.

  74. bruno says:

    OH MY…?

  75. prairie says:

    I’m torn between the two thumbs down options. It would look better if they left off all the blue/purple swirling grid thing, took down the circle thing and just put the crucifix on the back wall, or hanging vertically (not from that dopey angle) from the second or third beam back. If it has to be basic and functional, then leave it basic and functional and forgo the ugly 80’s music video background. It would also look much better in an off-white instead of that stark bright white. It really does look like the Millennium Falcon should come flying out of it.

  76. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Where do you s’pose the controls are that make the thing walk over to its giant web while it shoots at anything in its path?

  77. Tina in Ashburn says:

    and Father, just wonderin’ here why you have three negative choices and only one positive choice in your survey? Not that I’m guessing at how you feel about it or anythin’

  78. TonyLayne says:

    Actually, the design would have been considered “modern” about the same time that the USAF Academy Cadet Chapel was built … in the early ’60s. Now, it’s merely sterile and utilitarian, if not Unitarian. My “thumbs down”, though, is “without too much rancor” because it could have been a lot worse—the designer could have attempted something really avant-garde ….

  79. Prof. Basto says:

    The whole thing is ugly, ugly, ugly, but two details impress me:

    1. The insistance on an Altar table with a hollow base;

    2. The fact that the ugly Papal throne is set higher than the Altar.

    The Altar, the place of the Sacrifice of the Most Holy Saviour, should never, never, be lower than any Chair. I tought there was a norm to the effect that the number of steps of any Cathedra should not be greater than the number of steps of the Altar.

  80. TonyLayne says:


    My soul doesn’t want to vomit in the street. It merely wants to lie on the couch with a cold, wet towel on its forehead.

  81. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “thumbs up along with resigned sigh, wishing it could have been better” because I am long done being a depressed pessimist. I try to focus on the good things. Makes life more enjoyable.

  82. Hidden One says:

    It’s garbage. They didn’t even put Ven. Newman’s motto up – notice the English translation.

    The Holy Father and his friends must all be rather unhappy. I know the Oratorians CANNOT be pleased.

    Please, someone, let Msgr. Marini redesign it!!!

  83. JPIIfan says:

    As an architect, I can say that when one is designing a makeshift anything of this scale, there’s going to be some degree of clumsiness. Plus, things almost always look better in reality than in cartoonish computer renderings.

    That being said, the designer clearly did not know or care about Pope Benedict’s emphasis on rediscovering tradition, and the hermeneutic of continuity. If they’re trying to give the Brits a foretaste of the heavenly Jerusalem with this, the angelic starship may not have too many passengers. I voted “thumbs down, but without too much rancor”: hideous and foreign looking, but sadly, not too surprising given the fact that these outdoor “sanctuaries” are nothing more than concert stages with the bare minimum sacred furnishings and appointments.

    How about someone think about designing PERMANENT and beautiful open air churches on solemnly dedicated fields in every archdiocese in the world? They would be almost like pilgrimage sites, such as Lourdes. Crazier suggestions have been made, but I can already hear the bishops of the world saying “Are YOU going to pay for that?”

  84. MikeM says:

    That is horrifying. How do you foster a sense of reverence on a stage that looks like that of a daytime talk show?

  85. Athelstan says:

    It looks like an “Up With People” redress of an airplane hangar.

    Circa 1970.

    They have got to be kidding.

    I’d rather the Holy Father did it in an open field with no structure whatsoever if this is the best that the Church of England and Wales can dream up.

  86. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I don’t think this design was primarily for security, but for MEDIA. They have already laid out the views from the different camera angles – that’s why they put the chair higher than the altar. It’s all a show.

    Since when should media preferences trump traditional Catholic standards??

    Personally, it looks like some sort of ice princess igloo. This would be my girls’ dream castle in the winter!!

    This ‘outdoor church’ could have looked more traditional – raise the front to look like a steeple, square the sides, and by golly, remove the giant satellite dish from above the altar, this is the 21st century, can’t we make it a wee bit smaller.

    Poor Papa, they just aren’t hearing him. He’s been talking tradition, and they give him THIS. Also, I wonder if they realize that Papa is 80+ and we really don’t need him walking all those steps, on TV, back and forth…

  87. MaryW says:

    I voted #2 mainly because of the Crucifix. These days I have to pick my fights, blood pressure you know. Have learned in some instances to just grin and bear it. This is one of those times. Pope Benedict assuredly will make lemonade out of this lemon. God bless his journey to the UK.

  88. JMody says:

    Thumbs down hard. Cardinal Newman’s comparison of slow, natural growth as a sign of health compared to quick sudden growth as a sign of corruption or cancer spring to mind.

    Vicenzo – beauty Photoshop!

  89. Geremia says:

    It looks like a Masonic lodge!

  90. Sliwka says:

    Since when did Papa become a rock star?

    Re: Outdoor Permemant Altars Financing

    We have a (comparitively) small shrine by where I live that is in itself a scaled down replica of Lourdes. How was it built? By the donations of 600 loads of feild stones by local farmers at the encouragement of their local parish. Why do most laypersons not donate time and effort like this anymore? Because now the Church office is filled with paid positions who are “supposed” to do it (i.e fundraise).

  91. Charivari Rob says:

    Interestingly, in ancient Roman usage, “thumbs up” was a sign of condemnation, not affirmation.

    “How did Roman emperors order the death of a gladiator?

    Thumbs up.

    Neither Roman spectators calling for the death of a gladiator, nor Roman emperors authorizing one, ever gave a thumbs down. In fact, the Romans didn’t use a thumbs-down sign at all.

    If death was desired, the thumb was stuck up – like a drawn sword. For a loser’s life to be spared, the thumb was tucked away inside the closed fist – as with a sheathed weapon. This is expressed in Latin as pollice compresso favor iudicabatur, (goodwill is decided by the thumb being kept in).


    The Book of General Ignorance, pages 76-77:


    The article goes on to say how the fallacy is in part due to an error in a painting by Jean-Leon Gerome.

  92. kiwitrad says:

    I chose option 3. It’s an dreadful design and the Pope will be appalled but…we’ve got to stop ranting about everything the Bishops do. We’re Catholics! We’ve got to be charitable, and believe they’re trying their best.

  93. Agnes says:

    “Once again, Maestro Vincenzo rocks!” AMEN! Cantina music, I think, would have fit the bill.

  94. my kidz mom says:


  95. Vincenzo says:

    Thanks. A revised sanctuary idea: click here

  96. Vincenzo says:

    Okay I added cantina music to the other image post.

  97. off2 says:

    Rancorous thumbs down. As my rural cousin would have said, “butt ugly!” How can this monstrosity be read as anything other than a slap in the face of the Holy Father whose cultivated tastes are well known?

    I agree with posters above: There are several very large churches in the UK, many of surpassing beauty. Why not in one of them? Broadcast technology is not a problem.

    It’s just sad….

  98. hawkeye says:

    I’ve seen worse in my diocese. I would think they would send design options to the Vatican for approval. The Pope’s face during Mass will revel his true feelings about the sanctuary. Hopefully, heads will roll for this lapse in judgment.

  99. anj says:

    Newman would sooner burn that place down than say Mass there.

  100. kallman says:

    Something from Star Trek, would make a good Freemasons or United Nations set (if the Cross was removed). Shame on the Illuminati, Magic Circle, whatever.

  101. Please tell me it’s not true!!! :(

  102. Tuotilo says:

    I can’t believe this is real – I really thought this was just you messing around in photoshop.

  103. asperges says:

    Absolutely hideous. Love the cartoon above..!

  104. The-Monk says:

    Where are the puppets and litdancers to be placed?

  105. Scott W. says:

    I chose option 3. It’s an dreadful design and the Pope will be appalled but…we’ve got to stop ranting about everything the Bishops do. We’re Catholics! We’ve got to be charitable, and believe they’re trying their best.

    Wrong. Those involved with this design deserve a tar-and-feathering. Therefore, jeering IS the charitable response.

  106. TNCath says:

    So sad. The altar is painfully reminiscent of the horrible vestments Archbishop Piero Marini (now of happy memory) had the Pope wear on his visit to Austria several years ago.

    Remember? http://romanmiscellany.blogspot.com/2007/09/that-blue-chasuble.html

  107. shortside40 says:

    Where are the saints?? Where is the Blessed Mother? :(

  108. It’s almost as if they read Spirit of the Liturgy and did the polar opposite.

  109. Legisperitus says:

    It’s the big dome on Krypton where they banish people to the Phantom Zone! What are they planning to do to the Pope?!

  110. Having been inside a few Masonic temples, I’ve never seen any that looked anything like this.

  111. traditionalorganist says:

    The big white circle looks a lot like an eyeball to me. This is what happens when too much money is applied too quickly. I’m all for ending big open air ceremonies. I went to world youth day 2000, when I was more of a youth, and I found that the huge open air Mass/ceremony was more akin to a Woodstock than a Mass. I was probably about half a mile to a mile away from the sanctuary there. Now, I don’t see how my Sunday obligation (I think it was Sunday, now I can’t remember) was fulfilled if I couldn’t even see the altar! With the size of these open air events, you have to broadcast to the crowd for them to understand anything. What’s the difference between that and watching it at home? It would be better for Mass to be said in a beautiful Cathedral and broadcast from there to the rest of the world.

  112. Henry Edwards says:

    How would the traditional Roman style (so-called fiddle back) vestments–which Pope Benedict has worn for most of his most recently world-televised Masses (Easter, Ash Wednesday, Epiphany, etc.)–fit in with this architecture? Would they look silly, or would it?

  113. wanda says:

    Vincenzo, you’ve got some mad skills, I must say. Of your 2 options for this creation, the 2nd is a beautiful ‘if only’. This building could have come a lot closer to something like your 2nd option.

    LOL so early in the morning for your cantina music version. Thanks and may the force be with you!

  114. irishgirl says:

    Vincenzo-you rock, as always!

    Couldn’t get the cantina music going, though….

    As I stated earlier, this ‘sanctuary’ is absolutely ugly!

  115. I don’t hate it, but only because I’ve seen so much worse. It’s not actively anti-Mass or anti-Catholicism, like some architecture. This is just uninterested in doing anything useful for a papal Mass or a Mass honoring Newman.

    The reason the chair is so high is that it’s a nice piece of furniture, so it gives people something nice to look at. (This is the one from the other article, where instead of going to some actual furniture manufacturer, they gave the job to Catholic woodshop teachers. Which I don’t hate; but it seems… cheap.)

    The whole papal visit cost a ton, but all the individual parts (except those practically donated by pious individuals) seem cheap and done with little thought or care. It would have taken three minutes to design a fully acceptable (if boring) tribute to Newman, the pope, and England’s Catholic heritage in this space, even in the boring line style seen here. Even banners could have helped. But nooooo.

  116. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Yes, it does look like the Bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Where is Captain Picard?

  117. FranzJosf says:

    C. S. Lewis reminds us (in The Abolition of Man, I think) that we have duties to all our neighbors, both in time and space. This design is neighborly to neither the Holy Father nor Cardinal Newman. (Suddenly, it seems, no ‘pastoral’ choice was required from the planners.)

  118. Jaybirdnbham says:

    Vincenzo, you just gave me my best laugh of the day!! Excellent!

  119. kradcliffe says:

    I agree with Suburbanbanshee… it’s not actually offensive, just dull. I don’t expect them to build an actual Gothic cathedral for the event, and I’m not sure how to make a temporary outdoor thing like that look very good, anyway.

    I’m much more nervous about the music and liturgy we’re going to experience in Glasgow. I mean, I like Susan Boyle’s voice, so that’s OK, but the rest sounds like it’s going to be a bit of a trial.

  120. Martial Artist says:

    …thumbs down, but without too much rancor.

    Newman, His Holiness and our English Catholic brothers and sisters all deserve something better than this somewhat less than awful modernist attempt to evoke the Frank Lloyd Wrong school of architectural design. Neither reverent nor conducive to worship, IMHO–it looks like something that would be dreamed up by a modern American televangelist with a more modest budget than our Protestand brother in Christ, the Rev. Schuller, or someone who wished to evoke memories of the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  121. davidjhickey says:

    That’s an abomination! Horrible, sick and vomit inducing.

  122. Jon says:

    I’m sure that had the Holy Father sent an emissary to Britain six months ago, and said, “I’ve looked, ‘Klaatu barada nikto’ is no where in the new English translation. Plus, the Vox Clara boys have assured me of it. So, let’s go easy on the titanium, and bring in Mr. Pugin,” things would’ve gone much differently.

    I just don’t understand the reticence. Kick these clowns in the kiester, Holy Father. Please.

  123. UPDATE: 1 Sept 17:52 GMT:

    I see that England’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald has linked to this post.  Perhaps you readers might reciprocate and contribute well-considered and respectful comments in the discussion over there as well.

  124. Dave N. says:

    Reason 485 to bury the outdoormassextravaganza once and for all. The Pope could end this. The Pope should end this.

  125. Mitchell NY says:

    Ugly as Original Sin !!!

  126. KAS says:

    I liked it. I thought it was bright and pretty–however, I would have preferred the crucifix to have been set vertically and been larger and been back of the altar or above it. The one in the picture looks tacked on and is too small and it simply lacks dignity. I also don’t see a tabernacle. There ought to be one, nice and prominent and clearly important. Marble plinth and box with a gold door on it could fit right in.

    But my first response to the picture was that I liked it as a pretty space.

  127. I am sure a lot of people-time went into design, but this looks like a beach cabana for the Holy Father, not a reverent space for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Modern and very today, not transcendant and definitely out of tune with the typical high Anglican in the land of John Henry Newman.

  128. KAS: I am glad someone chimed in who liked the design!

    We can use both sides here.

  129. Jayna says:

    At least there’s a crucifix? That’s about the only positive thing I have to say. I don’t like the discotheque aesthetic.

  130. amsjj1002 says:

    I’m only going to this Mass b/c of dear Fr. Newman and the Holy Father. But oh, boy, what with I’ve heard of the music planned and now this, I’ll be offering a lot up that day!

    (sigh) I’m not too surprised, but I had hoped things would have been nicer. Ah, well. At least some of the comments here made me laugh!

  131. Charivari Rob says:

    It seems nice enough – at least, as far as one can tell from a couple of renderings.

    Remember that form is (to a certain extent) a product of function. Among the functions that must be considered:

    1. Provisions for security is a fact of life in these times. Not a bunker, but maintaining some separation so that proximity to the Holy Father is controlled.

    2. Some provision must made to shelter the Holy Father from whatever ordinary extremes the weather might generate.

    3. If you’re going to have a large crowd in a large, open area, you either need open sight lines to the sides or your congregation will stretch straight back in a narrow rectangle that’s several furlongs in length.

    As to the tabernacle… If it’s not fulfilling it’s actual functions (like reserving the consecrated hosts from a previous Mass or reserving the consecrated hosts for a subsequent Mass), would one be running the risk of treating a tabernacle like a prop, using it to “dress a set” so it “looks like a sanctuary”?

    For the number of Ministers of Holy Communion involved in a Mass like this, it’s not very likely that a suitable tabernacle exists that could hold the number of ciboria. Wouldn’t it be better to have a credence table of appropriate size (and appropriately guarded)?

    Now, if the program for the day included some period of Eucharistic Adoration, perhaps immediately before or after Mass… In that case, a tabernacle would be fulfilling one of its regular functions – reserve of the Blessed Sacrament when the monstrance is not in the place of repose.

    What really surprises me is that we’re up to 131 comments – and nobody has even noticed the communion rail at the front!

  132. Charivari Rob says:

    My mistake. What I thought was a post and one end of a rail was actually the small lectern in the lower left of the rendering. I latched onto the line of the step behind it and convinced myself that it was the line of a railing continuing across the front.

  133. Luke says:

    Indeed there is a communion rail at the front. But then there are also many steps leading to it, which makes little sense when the Eucharist needs to be distributed to a large crowd.

    Security would be much easier if there were a door leading to the sacristy and walls around the pews where the crowd would also find kneelers for use during the Eucharistic Rite. Police and security commonly guard building where the points of access are obvious–especially when there will undoubtedly be little shortage of security personnel on hand for the Holy Father’s visit.

    I believe that we need to bear more important things in mind here than just the safety of one man or a group of people. Any sanctuary is build for the purpose of the Holy Sacrifice. And Canon law reminds us that the only people who can be standing at the various points of the Eucharistic Rite are the Priest and the Deacon. Why? I think we all know that. Therefore it would be more appropriate to have a much more fitting place of worship. In my own opinion architects–whose job it is to keep FUNCTION ever in mind–have been allowed to ruin far too many places of worship where God’s glory should be foremost in the design.

    Your point about the tabernacle is a good one. However, considering that Cardinal Newman lived for CHrist, what would be wrong with making Christ the focus of the crowd’s attention by using a local Cathedral or Church? Or by planning to have adoration before or after the Mass? Isn’t the point of God raising up saints before us to show us that it is possible to rise above this vale of tears if only we keep looking to Jesus Christ? Then why not make our Eucharistic Lord the center of the sanctuary built for the purpose of having a Mass.

    If too many people people show up to fit in the Church, then they could view the Mass on a video screen and an Extraordinary Minister or Priest or Deacon could distribute Holy Communion to them where they are. It has been done before.

  134. Luke says:

    Of course, a lectern. . .

  135. RC2 says:

    I’ve collected a few links to photos of outdoor altars at similar papal visits by way of comparison. My conclusion is that tents look like tents.

  136. melafwife says:

    I think it looks like a giant operating room…

    Cristero & AnAmericanMom: Tasteless comments in butchered german…..

    I am shaking my head at some of these comments, vulgar language

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