Modern “art” in churches: the joy of the Enemy

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see any value in having this hideous thing in a church.

This rubbish is now hanging in the Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church) of Vienna.

No.  Really.

Corriere della Sera has the sad story.

Need an explanation?  I’ll bet you do.   I’ll bet you all the money in your pocket that you can’t say what this thing represents without looking at an explanation.

“To be in limbo”.

Yes. I know.

This piece of… thing… is 8 meters high, weighs 700kg, and will stay there until 19 April 2015.  So, rush to Vienna to see it.

It is meant – I am not making this up – to symbolize “faith and its menacing aspects”.

Only Jesuits could allow into their church something that make the faith look like a piece of… thing.

If this isn’t the representation of self-absorbed promethean neopelagians, I don’t know what would be.

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127 Responses to Modern “art” in churches: the joy of the Enemy

  1. LarryW2LJ says:

    My first impression was that it was a gigantic hornet’s nest. That being said, I have never understood and probably never will understand impressionistic modern art. Guess I’m not elite enough.

  2. SaintJude6 says:

    Perhaps someone with more wilderness aplomb than I possess, could tell me what kind of animal produces that scat? I think there is a book called, “What Sh*t that Scat?” which might be of help. My first guess is an owl. If we dissect the huge owl pellet, we will be able to see what the giant owl was eating.

  3. gretta says:

    Forget “limbo”, that thing makes me think more “giant asteroid”. As in, “go to confession because this giant asteroid is about to flatten our church” kinda thoughts. It makes me nervous just looking at the picture. And boy, is it just flat out ugly?!

  4. Traductora says:

    I’m in New Mexico at the moment, viewing some of the great things done by our ancestors in the Faith – gorgeous retablos, statues, churches – which some priests and bishops have tried to eliminate, except that the humble laity resisted and also that the authorities realized that these things were of interest to tourists. Many of the beautiful churches here are maintained by nonprofits that don’t even have many Catholic members.

    Also, much of this area was evangelized by the Jesuits, who had to leave upon the expulsion of the order as a result of conflicts in Europe. Yet they did wonderful work in their time. But what has happened to the Jesuits, and what has happened to the Church?

    Vienna, to me, was almost a case study: beautiful churches, beautiful heritage, intelligent, devout Jesuits once upon a time, many devout Catholics – and a hierarchy that now clearly considers itself to have moved beyond mere things like the Faith and thinks it is going to get into the gallery world and make a killing at the next auction at Sotheby’s. But that’s ok, because this is Germany, where you can’t receive the sacraments unleess you pay the German church tax.

    A new bishop is about to be selected for Santa Fe, btw; please pray that the choice be right.

  5. ppb says:

    I would not be able to handle having that thing in my field of vision throughout Mass. A dark cloud hanging over everything, literally. It’s not exactly presenting the joy of the Gospel, either.

  6. LoriM says:

    It’s a giant dirty thumb print! I don’t see how anyone could focus with that thing over your head. I got so annoyed a few months ago when a projection screen was installed above our heads in our church so that people can follow along with the readings and hymns (even though we have missals). However, this takes the cake!

  7. Elizabeth D says:

    Maybe this “sculpture” represents the re-formed Jesuits within the Church? This thing says “you who came here to see beauty and to pray–I hate you” loud and clear.

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    Do not panic. NCC-1701-E has been hailed. When it arrives, it will scan the object for life forms.

  9. defreitas says:

    I’m an art dealer in Toronto and I can’t understand why that thing would be ever be allowed to have been installed in a consecrated building. It does nothing for faith and very little for art. I assume that the artist just wanted to parasite upon the Baroque Glory that was old Vienna. The Marquis de Pombal was right, the Jesuits should be suppressed for the good of civilization.

  10. fichtnerbass says:

    Resistance is futile. I’m with Charles – send Starfleet to investigate.

  11. disco says:

    I am going to go ahead and say that this is a very accurate graphical depiction of the cancer of error which has infected the church lo these many years.

  12. anilwang says:

    I wish it were limited to churches. Unfortunately it’s infected devotional liturgies as well. The stations of the cross at the parish I go to for daily mass is generally pretty orthodox, but last year it handed over the Stations of the Cross celebrations to the various social groups within the parish. Some groups like the Legion of Mary stick to the beautiful Alfonso Liguori stations of the cross, but other groups such as social justice and “religious art” invent their own liturgies.

    As banal as the social justice liturgy is replacing scripture and saints with PC stock cliches, it is nowhere near as nausea inducing as the “religious art” stations of the cross which consists of pictures of postmodern “art” and interpretations of that “art”. The art quite literally looks like random snapshots of a scrapyard floor and the “interpretations” given at each station appears as related to the the actual pictures as horoscope predictions. Yes an “expert” might be able to decipher what the various declension in the various houses means, but no-one outside this clique will have a clue and no two experts will give the same reason for the “interpretation”. It’s all arbitrary and very ego-driven.

  13. Blaise says:

    Clutching at straws, perhaps it will make the people of the parish realise the beautiful church they have already. But I doubt they were consulted before it was hung up.
    I visited the national gallery in London today and admired many depictions of the Virgin and child (including at least one with a Christological goldfinch) and other religious works. One interesting thing about them is that they were all originally painted for a specific place, usually an altarpiece or other Church decoration. I think it was in reading Gadamer that I first took in the fact that art works have mutated: they are now abstracted from any specific place and created without reference to where they will be displayed (often, not always). In earlier generations great paintings and statues, and great music as well often, were created for a specific place or a specific event. They were not actually “art for art’s sake” but “art for God’s sake” or at least “art for the sake of conveying a specific impression.”

  14. chantgirl says:

    This is very obviously an alien egg pod. Be wary of face-hugging babies popping out and impregnating the Jesuits. Where is Ripley with a flame thrower when you need her?

  15. VexillaRegis says:

    Psst, dear Traductora, Vienna is not in Germany, it’s the capital of Austria ;-)

  16. Lyons says:

    Whiskey
    Tango
    Foxtrot

  17. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Optime Pater – this particular church has a special fondness for hideous “art” like this. The last time I was in Vienna, the picture over the altar was covered over with a large brown hanging of some sort, on which was hung a crucified rabbit (not a real one).

  18. Hank Igitur says:

    Dinosaur fecolith.

  19. Muv says:

    There must be an extremely large bat in the belfry.

  20. CradleRevert says:

    I was going to hyperbolically call it a giant piece of excrement, but I guess it’s not so hyperbolic after all.

  21. Bressani56 says:

    This is absolutely hideous. I cannot look at it … it is scary. Wow, this is the most scary, awful thing I’ve ever seen. How can the people in that Church allow such a thing???

  22. thomas tucker says:

    I think the best thing one could say about it is “Notice how it occupies space.”

  23. NBW says:

    It hurts to see this. This is NOT art that brings you closer to God. It looks like a giant hairball from hell. I am an artist and I would have been more than happy to paint a beautiful, Traditional painting for a lot less than that piece of trash hanging in limbo. I would be afraid to go to Mass there; what if the ten ton hairball broke lose from limbo and killed someone?

  24. Maximilia says:

    It looks like the lump of coal they’ll be getting in their stocking.

  25. Bruce says:

    The only way it could have been better is if they had painted gold!

  26. Netmilsmom says:

    anilwang – This same thing happened at my VERY traditional parish right before the modernist bomb dropped.
    Now I have my MP3 player with the download of Father Z praying the Liguori Stations. When anyone starts TOIOS (their own interpretation of Stations), I flip my buds in my ears and pray along with Father Z

  27. Bruce says:

    painted it gold

  28. Scott W. says:

    If I were in charge, this thing would be removed subito, ground into powder, the powder fed to dogs, and the dogs excrement burned.

    Then I would remove whoever approved of it from their office, and the artist would be on a permanent “do not call” list.

    Then I would go to the nearest perpetual adoration chapel at 3:00 in morning, and whoever is there would be drafted to director of liturgy.

  29. jfk03 says:

    I believe this to be a bust of the Emperor Constantine V kopronymos.

  30. hilltop says:

    A group of the Faithful should organize to hide in this church at night so as to unlock the doors to a larger group that together could cut this tumor down and haul it to the platz outside the front door for a nice bon-fire. Seriously.

  31. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I agree with the idea that this is an alien pod. It reminds me of the alien in “The Blob” (1958, not the remake). “The Blob” has much greater cultural and artistic value than the sculpture because it marks the film debut of Steve McQueen. It’s on YouTube.

  32. Bosco says:

    Surrealistic pigeon dropping…big pigeon.

  33. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Oh, the stupidity. The stupidity.

  34. Matt Robare says:

    Is April 19 when it hatches and the Xenomorphs come out?

  35. JBS says:

    Massachusetts Catholic, the very worst movie ever made is “Beware! The Blob”, which would have been helped by this wonderful work of terrifying art.

  36. pelerin says:

    This hideous monstrosity appears to be suspended in mid air. I would be afraid to walk under it. I really do despair at some of the modern art which has appeared in churches.

    A few years back at Christmas time there was an unusual modern piece of art displayed in the Church of La Madeleine in Paris. It was advertised as a modern ‘creche’ and I went to see it out of curiosity. There were no figures at all of any style whatsoever and it was soon given the nickname of the ‘Golden Doughnut’ which describes exactly what it looked like. I came to the conclusion that people looking at it had to imagine their own crib figures perhaps in the hole in the middle – something most of us could have done without the aid of a golden doughnut!

  37. Allan S. says:

    A local group like Juventutem, Knights of Malta (heh) or a SP ‘stable group” should moto propio smash it to bits with sticks and cart it away, then run to the local Ordinary or Pastor and – panting out of breath – relate this amazing story of a giant insect nest of some sort being found and destroyed before it could harm the Church!

    (Heck, the ‘artist’ is probably of the sort that sees any effect or interaction with his opus as part of the art itself, and therefore ‘valid’ or some such drivel)

  38. Dialogos says:

    My wife and I watched “The Mission” over the weekend, she for the first time and I for the first time in many years (and for the first time as a Catholic). Yes, I know it’s a fictionalized portrait of the Jesuits and not without flaw, but I think to myself when confronted with that hideous strength in Vienna and other things of its ilk: what has happened to the Jesuits. The fact that there are outstanding Jesuits like Fr. Hardon, Fr. Cizsek, Fr. Schall and a few others makes the loss of that great order even harder to fathom.

  39. bittergeek says:

    Is there some theological symbolism to a wasp nest? I must admit I’m drawing a blank on that one.

    Has anyone checked the calendar for that church to see when they are planning to break open that pinata? Perhaps this is a horribly failed attempt at inculturation intended for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. If we hit Father Z’s tip jar, he might be able to get to Vienna in time to hit that monstrosity with a large stick.

  40. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    A software engineer’s code comment: “This, poses one observer, is quite disgusting. I’m rather inclined to agree with the chap, though I am not sure whether this repulsive object was ejected from a vulpine sigmoid, or a strygine oesophagus.”

  41. pseudomodo says:

    I think it is obvious….

    The floor of hell needed repaving and they simply sent all the debris back to the original supplier for eco-disposal.

    You have to be an environmentalist to understand!

  42. JARay says:

    I’m with pseudomodo on this. It is the sweepings of the floor of hell sent back to the original supplier for eco-disposal.

  43. cpttom says:

    I saw this and the first thought I had after excrement was “What is in the drinking and Holy water in Vienna?” Is this normal behavior in the Austrian Church?

  44. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    @Lyons: Lima Oscar Lima!

    This church is in the jurisdiction of Cardinal Schönborn.

  45. Tim Ferguson says:

    it’s not square enough to be the Borg, it must be a very large hornet’s nest.

  46. iPadre says:

    Someone forgot to hit flush when they left.

    Just think what they would say if we put a beautiful work of art in one of the modern bomb shelter cathedrals. It would never happen!

  47. Ella says:

    While looking at that horrendous monstrosity, I kept thinking “please oh please let that be somebody’s sick photo-shopped joke”. Maybe instead of seeing beyond the paint, its like trying to see beyond the dung? Hopefully at least that thing will help get people into the Confessional because it certainly raises thoughts of hell and damnation.

  48. SimonR says:

    Father, you mentioned that the thing will stay there until 19 April 2015.

    19 April was the day when our beloved Benedict XVI was elected Pope. Is it just a coincidence?

    In 2000 years of Christian history, this must be a candidate for the worst attempt at art ever in a Church. There surely cannot be anything worse?

  49. Mary Jane says:

    I’ve been to that church; it’s gorgeous. The “art” is horrible!!

  50. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    UGH!

  51. NomenDeiAdmirabileEst says:

    Oh dear! Perhaps it got too cold in collegeville for the bees from St. John’s abbey so they migrated to Vienna and began work on another hive there? I’ll never quite understand why so much modern liturgical art and architecture looks like it was made by bees. Oh well, it is a beautiful church otherwise!

  52. Kerry says:

    Enormous burnt marshmallow!
    Or maybe a giant Pilsbury doughboy after horrible burns.

  53. Charles E Flynn says:

    After a rapid review of the ship’s historical library, and a consideration of the views of those offended by the invading object, Data suggests reading this:

    Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church, by Peter Kwasniewski, with a foreword by Fr. Jonathan Robinson (just published November 11).

  54. JARay says:

    We are often told of the beauties of church architecture being there to raise our hearts and minds to heavenly things. No doubt the good Jesuits have hung this thing over the heads of the congregation in order to warn them of the truth of hell. Indeed, in this age where everyone seems to think that heaven is a shoe-in for each dear departed, it is salutary to remind them all, that hell is a certainty for those who die in their sins.

  55. amenamen says:

    Rorshach test answers
    a hornet’s nest (literally, at least)
    the Rosetta stone, but illegible
    an asteroid
    ugly, colorless Piñata
    the Death Star, after Luke Skywalker blew it up
    Mr. Potato Head, overdone
    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I am the great and powerful Oz.”
    the original paper-mache monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. What water damage can do.
    a mummified kidney
    one of the cocoons from the movie, “Cocoon”
    A cross between the sword of Damocles and the myth of Sisyphus?
    a parish with too much time and money to waste

  56. Katharine B. says:

    Abomination of Desolation.

  57. Katharine B. says:

    Abomination of Desolation.

  58. Dr Guinness says:

    Well, to be fair, since the types who run this church choose to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice on a few cinder blocks halfway down the nave rather than the magnificent gilded altar originally installed, this surprises me not one bit.

    How disgusting.

  59. Kathleen10 says:

    If this is art my dog is an artist.

  60. Legisperitus says:

    I know there’s such a thing as property rights, but would it not be a supreme service to humanity for someone to march in there and destroy this thing?

  61. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    If this is its pellet, I tremble to see the size of the owl – but perhaps it is a piñata: watch out, should there be any Viennese street urchins of impeccable correctness with the same question and determined to find out, for sure!

  62. Art says:

    Maybe they got permission to celebrate Pentecost according to the Ambrosian Rite?

    (Wishful thinking, I know…)

  63. ChesterFrank says:

    I usually defend modern abstract art but:
    1- I hope that thing doesn’t fall onto some poor unsuspecting parishioner!
    2- They could have at least put a Cappa magna over it.
    3- After Vienna, it is traveling to GERMANY: Where the weird stuff comes from.(your post) I am sure it will be appreciated there.

  64. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Or, perhaps the turd of Damocles?

  65. tealady24 says:

    Ye gods and little fishes!
    Could it be a giant pinata; swat it and see what happens!

  66. Pingback: It must give the Enemy great joy to see this hanging in a Catholic church... - Christian Forums

  67. dawnmaria says:

    Read The Jesuits by Malachi Martin and then you’ll undertand!

  68. RJHighland says:

    Leave it to the Jesuits, hey maybe it will be hanging in St. Peters next there is a Jesuit in the See of Peter!!! Looks like a beautiful Church other than that monstrosity. Stuff like this always has me reflect back on Jesus and the money changers in the temple.

  69. williamjm says:

    I suppose this must be how the Jesuits do laundry.

  70. JNVA says:

    That’s a space peanut.

  71. Athelstan says:

    You are all of you out of it: This is clearly an Ambrosian Rite faro (no doubt thanks to a special indult granted by Gregory XVI to Vienna Jesuits), waiting to be ignited on the big feast day…

    I just hope they keep the Vienna Fire Department on standby.

  72. Rachel K says:

    Demonic. Exorcism needed in this building….

  73. Bea says:

    My first thought: Wasp Nest

    “Hagan Lio” and see what happens with that wasp’s nest!

  74. Andrew D says:

    It takes the focus off the tabernacle where Our Lord rests – just like what Satan intended! I shudder to think what kind of Mass and music the parishoners of this Church have to endure.

  75. KateD says:

    EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  76. KateD says:

    EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  77. Jesuits?

    check.

    Hideous?

    check.

    Surprised?

    Nope.

    Think this is bad visually, just thinkof how ugly the hearts who contemplate this and allow it to be publically display in tahenTemple.

  78. frahobbit says:

    Heavens to Murgatroid Batman! They missed one of Godzilla’s eggs!

  79. Bea says:

    Loved one of the comments posted on the link provided by Fr. Z:

    Se ci passi sotto senza paura, la tua fede è forte. ((-:

    “If you pass under it without fear, your faith is strong”

  80. The parishioners at the next place this is supposed to go should form a blockade to prevent it from being installed. If that doesn’t work, maybe an envelope-burning ceremony might be in order.

  81. stephen c says:

    The picture of this art is painful to look at. But there appear to be millions of Europeans who are, for some reason, impressed by ugly installation art. Maybe this installation art looks better live than it does in a photograph. (Maybe it looks worse, too, God forbid). Maybe this depiction of limbo – and limbo is probably a fantastically ugly place compared to heaven (albeit a more beautiful place than any place I have ever seen, but that is another story) will convert, or help to convert, for reasons best known to them, one or more installation art fans. Paul Claudel was converted standing next to an ordinary stone pillar. Anyway, my guess is that there are between ten and twenty thousand visually beautiful churches in Europe. As much as I dislike purposeful ugliness and the artistic rudeness that deprives people – many of them poor and greatly suffering, with a real need for beauty in their lives – of much of the little portion of beauty that they might find on this earth, I can almost understand the reasons why an unpleasant vision of Limbo might be temporarily placed in one of the thousands of beautiful European churches. Please don’t do this in America though where it is not quite so easy to walk down the street and find another beautiful church! Anyway, I certainly have never successfully brought the Gospel to any modernist Europeans, and who knows if this will work? I will pray for whoever is responsible for this.

  82. MouseTemplar says:

    What are these Jesuits thinking by keeping such an elite art piece as decoration? They should auction it off (perhaps to a Porsche exec) and distribute the money to the homeless by end of business day !

  83. APX says:

    It reminds me of the ugly hideousness of my sins in light of God…and a giant hornets nest.

  84. Traductora says:

    I know Vienna is in Austria, but I have been very outraged by the German church tax and the miserable fate of the German speaking countries and regions. The Pope is busy attacking parishes for charging for weddings (the cheapest part of the wedding is the rental of the church and the organist, and the priest’s stipend is included….and if you really can’t pay it, you can get married anyway). And he is also busy renting out the Sistine Chapel because there is no special religious place and it’s all superfluous interior decorating, in his mind. But he’s fine with the German church tax.

    Cardinal Kasper is raking in the euros with the church tax. The priests make as much as 4000 euros per month, in addition to room and board, with virtually no congregation because the faithful don’t go and only pay the church tax because they won’t be able to be married, buried or get their kids baptized unless they pay it. Throughout the German speaking lands, the churches are empty of people, while this type of disgraceful “art” can be found in virtually any one of them. And some of these Germans are the people who are advising the Pope, who obviously has no interest in or understanding of art or music and would be perfectly happy to put the whole operation on the block because it reminds him too much of the world before Vatican II. Real art does that.

  85. catholiccomelately says:

    Perhaps they will swaddle it in poinsettias for Christmas!

  86. Gratias says:

    What happened to the Jesuits? Find out all about it in:

    The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church
    by Malachi Martin; Simon and Schuster

  87. MrTipsNZ says:

    Satan is having a laugh on this one – mocking the once proud Jesuits and Vienna whom avoided destruction in 1529 – a two-fer if you will.

    He has a long memory….

  88. Polycarpio says:

    Unconventional as the aesthetic of this piece is, you know what I find to be uglier? People making fun of Catholics–and fellow Catholics are the offenders! Comment after comment, it’s really piling on and, despite the fact that several posters fault the piece for being “elitist” and “snobby,” there is little doubt that everyone posting here is looking down their noses at the piece, with no real effort to understand why church authorities thought it could help it open up a horizon to the Transcendent. I know it’s not pretty, but neither is Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece. Neither is that famous triptych by Hieronymus Bosch nor Vasari’s Last Judgment in the Florence cathedral. By the way, I don’t really like this thing very much either, but I like this kind of circular firing squad or inside hit job even less.

  89. Mariana2 says:

    Whats’s that, an oblong Death Star?!

  90. Martlet says:

    ChesterFrank – Every single German I know would do exactly as everyone here has done. Their first question would be “What is it?” and I suspect their answers would be very similar to answers given here. I can almost hear my neighbour. “It’s a hornet’s nest. Leave it alone and they will have flown by the end of summer.”

    Traductora – Not every German church is empty. There are a couple we go to where you can hardly find a seat. They are beautiful churches, the current buildings having stood for over a thousand years, and one of them built over a very early baptismal bath dating to (I think) the second century. No nasty art in them. When we moved to where we currently live – along what is little lane a couple of kilometres outside the village, we were surprised and delighted to find a well-tended shrine to Our Lady on the corner. A votive candle shines day and night and there are often fresh flowers. As we drive by, we often see hikers who have stopped to pray and meditate there. Truly, all is not lost here in Germany.

  91. pelerin says:

    Polycarpio – I can’t remember who it was but someone once said ‘Nothing is too beautiful with which to glorify God’. And how can this monstrous lump be regarded as beautiful in any way? The often amusing comments from readers undoubtedly hide their sadness at the presence of such an object in a magnificent place of worship.

  92. pelerin says:

    ‘Rien n’est trop beau pour le Bon Dieu’ – Saint Louis

  93. JonPatrick says:

    Charles E Flynn, thanks for the link to the Peter Kwasniewski book. Looks interesting. Although one thing that bothers me is the “sponsored link” put there by Amazon which takes you to the page for Holy Family Monastery, a sedevacantist group.

    My first reaction to the sculpture is it reminded me of the paper wasps nests we used to encounter in the barn when we had a horse farm in Central Mass. Hope it doesn’t get whacked by a careless crucifer resulting in a stream of angry wasps descending on the congregation.

  94. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Polycarpio writes, “despite the fact that several posters fault the piece for being ‘elitist’ and ‘snobby,’ there is little doubt that everyone posting here is looking down their noses…”: tu quoque? But you, even via illicit generalizations, do well implicitly call for self-examination and the making of proper distinctions.

    Is to criticize the aesthetic, or the work, improperly to criticize the aesthetician, or artist, or properly their acts and motives?

    Is one distinguishing between questions concerning the work as such, and the propriety of placing it here?

    And so on.

    Satire has its – great – dangers, but, I think, ‘abusus non tollit usum’ applies even to satire.

  95. q7swallows says:

    If it looks like a (burnt) duck, mirrors an animal’s calling card, hangs like the congealed smoke of Satan, is quiet like a Trojan spider sac, and swings from the center of the church ceiling like some bloated gargoyle who’s forgotten his place as a gutter, it’s probably . . . um . . . any of the above! In any case, whatever it is, it does–de facto–detract and distract from the point of the Church: the Throne Room of Our Lord and the concentrated, well-ordered, commensurate beauty that ought to surround Him.

    That black . . . thing is disproportionate in every possible way: in size, form, color, design, placement, even safety, etc. It dwarfs and robs God of His deservedly central place of attention in the Church. So there is, with its introduction, an enshrinement of an un-balance. A severe, jarring dis-harmony. Intentional ruptures against beauty, grace, and harmony have no place in God’s House. That’s why there is so much space **outside** of a church. Because there, we can always contemplate this kind of thing where it belongs: out in the yard.

  96. Legisperitus says:

    Koyaaaaaanisqatsiiiiiiiii…

  97. dans0622 says:

    In the immortal word of Luke Skywalker: “NOOOOOOO!!!”

  98. Aegidius says:

    Apart from being a hideous wasp nest – doesn’t the thing invoke the image of the cloud leading the Israelites at day through the desert, or the image of Satan’s smoke within the church, or the image of a large and dark tiara? And is there not some figurative detail ob the nest/cloud/smoke/tiara?
    Well, I can’t put these things together, but Jesuits certainly can.

  99. Polycarpio:

    First, there is nothing unchristian about calling ugly, ugly. And at some point, the deliberate infusion of ugliness into beauty, into the sacred, approaches malice. Speculation about supernatural malice is not out of order.

    Second, one way people deal with things that are extremely discouraging or frightening is humor. I am gratified that humor about this has dominated, because it defuses what must otherwise be darker reactions.

    So with that, I offer a bright side to this horror: it will encourage people to sit up front in church!

  100. Aegidius says:

    Fr. Fox, maybe the thing even encourages ad orientem celebration on the part of the priest? It might be “ein Teil von jener Kraft, die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.”

  101. MrsMacD says:

    If that is the artist’s idea of the menacing aspects of Faith. The artist most probably needs to go to confession and let go of some very harmful attachments. Unless of course it’s representation of the Ego. “Show me Lord what I am and what you are!” And they hung what I am from the ceiling of the Church, and I blushed for shame! How can you love me God? How can you love me? Look how ugly I am! And He stretched out His arms and died for me and I was covered with confusion! And I received Him in Holy Communion and I was changed. No longer was I an ugly blob hanging t’wixt Heaven and Hell but a soul in the Image of Christ! Ah! What miracle is this!

  102. Cajetan says:

    Ah, the Jesuits…. smh. They never fail to disappoint.

  103. Nordic Breed says:

    A giant dinosaur turd. A sick mind made this and even sicker minds hung it in a sacred place.

  104. Amy Giglio says:

    It looks like an enormous wasp’s nest.

  105. Amy Giglio says:

    It looks like an enormous wasp’s nest.

  106. Amy Giglio says:

    It looks like an enormous wasp’s nest.

  107. iepuras says:

    It looks like an ugly pinata. My boys would be more than happy to take a baseball bat to it, but they would be sorely disappointed when candy doesn’t fall out.

  108. Andreas says:

    Cpttom asks, “Is this normal behavior in the Austrian Church?” Here in Austria, the answer is, happily ‘no’. However, Austrian neo-modernism today reflects a continuation of an odd approach to sacred art and architecture. It is a continuation of the ego-centric ‘wreckovationist’ philosophy of “artists” and “architects” slapping something ‘new’ and incongruous onto an already existing structure; totally ignoring the existing aesthetics associated with the original. Ergo, one finds such monstrosities in and attached to otherwise glorious structures. This is, of course, not a new philosophy; throughout much of Europe one can see countless Romanesque and Gothic-period churches that have been Baroqicized to reflect late 17th/early 18th century tastes. Still, there remains great beauty and a true sense of holiness in those changes when done correctly. However, when such an approach fails, as it has quite obviously in this case, it can prove at minimum a horrendous distraction and at worst…well, most of the others on this list have already described that quite nicely here.

  109. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    There is an English post about it at the “artist group” website (which address I found via the German Wikipedia article about them):

    http://www.steinbrener-dempf.com/

    It does not mention “faith and its menacing aspects” but does say “the rock appears menacing, with the spiritual aspect assuming a Damoclean impression at this particular site” (apparently translating “wirkt der Fels bedrohlich, das spirituelle Moment entwickelt sich hier zur Damokles-artigen Anmutung”).

    The “limbo” reference does not appear to have any theological content, but merely to play with the everyday sense of the English expression.

    It occurs to me one might interestingly contrast Bosch’s tritych altarpiece now in the Prado in its closed state, with all its darkness and subdued grissaile coloration – and all its delicacy and beauty as well as oddness.

    By the way, the Jesuits have hosted them there, before (in 2008).

  110. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Perhaps someone could stage a performance of T.S. Eliot’s little-known play, The Rock, before the facade of the Church, by way of contrast… (Little-known, beyonf the splendid often-reprinted Choruses!)

  111. Emilio says:

    Seeing something so brutally ugly surrounded by an otherwise beautiful Temple to our God saddens and sickens me through and through. The famous Via Crucis reflections by our beloved emeritus Pope, still as Cardinal about the filth in our Church still bear so much truth. Could our Jesuit Supreme Pontiff be moved to denounce an outrage like this and others in the very order where he was formed? Early in this Pontificate I was sincerely hopeful that the first Jesuit elected to the Supreme Pontificate would reform the excesses and outrages and heterodoxy that plague the Compañía de Jesús like a perennial cancer, but the punishment and alienation of Cardinal Burke has completely destroyed those inital hopes. I sincerely beg Their Holy Founder, and Saints Francis Xavier, Francisco Borja (an example like no other how the ignominy of his ancestry can be powerfully contrasted by radical holiness), and Alberto Hurtado SJ (of Chile) to intercede for their Order and the incalculable damage it is now doing on this Earth and to the Church that they have sworn to protect like soldiers.

  112. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    It reminds me of an old “Saturday Night Live” bit; what the hell is that?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV7Qz640OeM

  113. Jim McCrea says:

    Unintelligibility is the mark of satan, as intelligibility is the mark of God.

  114. robtbrown says:

    This rubbish is now hanging in the Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church) of Vienna.

    It makes it easy to understand why the Jesuits have become the Incredible Shrinking Religious Order. It symbolizes the death rattle of a once great religious order.

    A few stats:

    In 1965 there were 36,000 Jesuits in the world, today half that number.

    In 2010 the average age of Jesuit priests in the US was c 69 yrs, Europe c 68, Latin America c 65.

    In 2010 470 men entered the Jesuit novitiate world wide; in that same year 270 left the Society.

  115. acricketchirps says:

    It’s Pure Evil from Time Bandits.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6X9KcrXHwg

  116. Mariana2 says:

    Elizabeth D says:

    “….This thing says “you who came here to see beauty and to pray–I hate you” loud and clear.”

    This is the best reply!

  117. Rouxfus says:

    Extending M. Unwilling’s links to similar Magritte paintings above, I reckon the image of the church in Austria needs the following words added across the top:

    “Ce ne est pas une pièce de merde”

  118. frRobertM says:

    I attended a priest’s ordination in Vienna, at a beautiful church which had a colossal organ (which is still in working order) that had been used for centuries – going back to possible performances on it by W. A. Mozart and other giants of the era. The ordinandi was elated as he had invited a world-renowned organist who was going to play gratis for the celebration. At the rehearsal, however, it turns out that the bishop’s office (I never found out exactly who it was) had decided against this, choosing to have two guitars and a piano playing – and not informing anyone of their mandate from on high negating all of the prior arrangements! This was one of the few times that I’ve ever seen a priest crying the night before his ordination because of the ambiance and music that were foisted upon him against his will! Thank God that he was able to look past that and focus on the true meaning of the sacrament!! And, with a p.s., the organist later in the afternoon, as well as a couple other keyboardists and a few of opera-singing friends, put on a gratis post-reception concert that was truly magnificent!

  119. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The “artist group” in their post on their site refer explicitly to Magritte’s ‘The Castle of the Pyrenees’.

    The online note at the Israel Museum (where it hangs) includes, “From a number of drawings proposed by Magritte, [Henry] Torczyner [the patron who commissioned it and later donated it to the Museum] selected one of a large rock surmounted by a castle. Intimately acquainted with the artist’s repertoire, Torczyner added the suggestion of a sky on a clear day and a rough darkish sea ‘because over the dark sea or ocean there rises the rock of hope, topped by a fortress, a castle.’ ” So, the “artist group” (and the Viennese Jesuits) seem also to have produced a sort of subversive opposite to the painting they refer to! The Magritte-Torczyner correspondence about it was published by the Museum in 1991. I wonder if it contains any discussion of the idea of Monsalvat as Grail castle in the Pyrenees? Perhaps we have here an ugly parody of the Grail castle, Monsalvat, with the stone Grail, reposing serenely upon “the rock of hope” – being used to distract from the Calix?

  120. Reconverted Idiot says:

    Is it called “Limbo” because the shock makes people lean back so far they literally limbo up the aisle to communion?

    To me it looks like a rather scary and off-putting piñata. Then again, hitting it repeatedly with a stick is probably the best thing for it.

  121. nichols says:

    It’s based on a painting by magritte.
    http://linesandcolors.com/2006/04/15/ren-magritte/

    It’s just sooooo ugly. I thought it actually was suspended rubbish for a second.

    Maybe it is

  122. kmcgrathop says:

    This is the time on Sprockets ven ve danz!

  123. DanW says:

    My first thoughts were: When and how did Joe Btfsplk ever get to Vienna?

  124. Indulgentiam says:

    This is clearly a depiction of the collective Jesuit bowel movement known as Liberation Theology. Saints preserve us!
    Fr. Fox, thank you for that bride side. I was sure there must be one somewhere.

    q7swallows–” the Throne Room of Our Lord and the concentrated, well-ordered, commensurate beauty that ought to surround Him.”
    I’m going to comit that to memory and use it. Thank you :)

  125. Lin says:

    Sad, very sad that the pastor and bishop permits this rubbish! Pray for our clergy!

  126. Father Bartoloma says:

    Looks like someone forgot to flush.