Quam terribilis est locus iste! Hic non est aliud nisi domus Dei, et porta caeli!

Holy Church has given two great gifts to all of humanity: art and saints.

Both art and saints reflect God’s beauty and, therefore, call to each man to recognize also what is good and what is true.

Art reflects God’s beauty through inanimate things and saints reflect His beauty as animate.   In each case His images are His agents, so that we can can even call art, God’s grandchildren.

I’ve long thought that the architecture, art and music of each given age and culture employed for worship reflects that people’s self-understanding and their understanding of who and what the Church is.  There is a simultaneous enrichment constantly going on between a culture and a people with the Church through which they offer their first duty, proper worship through the virtue of Religion.  When the world’s offering is given logical priority in this chronologically simultaneous exchange, one result is produced.  When what the Church has to give to the world is given logical priority, another result is produced.

And, thus, I arrive at the goal of this post.   Behold a photo from a Solemn Mass at the Faldstool at the Wallfahrtskirche in Birnau.

Right click this and open it in a new tab.  Put down your coffee first.

There are so many things to say about this photo.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Where do those doors on the upper level lead?

  2. Bonaventurian says:

    Meh, I think it needs a nice big ikea table in front of the high altar and some felt banners to cover those drab statues.

  3. fairkaye says:

    It takes our breath away. We could spend days . . . weeks . . . months savoring the art. Makes us wonder about some of the American churches built in the last 50 years.

  4. FrAnt says:

    I can’t find the priest. I think I can make out the servers. I’m guessing that the church is not connected to a Trappist Abbey.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    A visual feast. It is unbelievable.

  6. iPadre says:

    I wonder what the people of faith who created these temples to the Most High would think about the monstrosities that are hatched today.

  7. grateful says:

    to enlarge picture, press the Ctrl button and at the same time, press the + button.

  8. Clinton R. says:

    Stunningly beautiful. Art reflects how the artist feels about the subject. We can see this as well in the design of the plain, dull and thoroughly uninspiring parishes post V2.

  9. APX says:

    Where do those doors on the upper level lead?
    My guess is stairs. I suspect that’s the gallery that at one point was covered by screens so that women could sing in church without causing scandal by being seen.

  10. mysticalrose says:

    Wow. This reminds me of the holy card where heaven is literally open above the priest, who is elevating the Blessed Sacrament. Clearly, whoever built this had a firm understanding of theology.

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