I have received word that some demolition is going on at the church where Fr. George Rutler used to be pastor, Our Saviour.
As you may know, Fr. Rutler was – in a move that surprised many – transferred not too long ago from Our Saviour on Park Avenue to St. Michael’s in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and was also made administrator of Holy Innocents in the Garment District.
In any event, I am told that the new pastor at Our Saviour, Fr. Robbins, removing iconic artwork from the sanctuary.
I was told at one point that the altar rail was slated for demolition. However, as one person clarified for me, the workman only cleaned it. When people had seen workmen concerning themselves with the rail they protested to the Archdiocese. Fr. Robbins thereafter said that it was not ever his intention for it to be removed. Or so it goes.
This is what Our Savior looked like before:
And this is what it looks like today… I really do mean today, literally:
Look. I understand that each pastor of a parish wants to be able to make adjustments, even improvements. But I don’t get this.
Is it that he wants to restore the church to what it looked like before the Eastern style art was introduced? I suppose there is some sense in that sort of project, returning a building to the original intent. The artwork, added by Fr. Rutler, can only have been in place for about a dozen years, max, since that was the length of his term. I doubt that that is what is going on here.
I suspect this is ideological, and not restoration at all.
It looks like a modern example of iconoclasm.
If the iconic work that frames the sanctuary has been effaced, how long can the work around the triumphal arch and in the tympanum of the apse survive?
What’s going on there? Is this “Get Rutler!” time in NYC? Deface Rutler’s work at Our Saviour? Slate St. Michael’s and Holy Innocents for closure a year after he arrives? By next year he’ll be pastor of a cardboard box over a grate near the Hudson.
More about the artist who painted the icons, Ken Woo. HERE He seems to be pretty well known.
It would be nice to see some photos of the place from the 1950’s when it was built, and then into the 60’s, 70’s etc. to see the changes.