VIDEO: Amazing church construction. It is not obligatory to build ugly churches.

I have always admired those in the Church who can think big, create projects, and bring them to completion.

Hence, I found this project fascinating.  I’ve been following the videos.

The SSPX is building a huge church in Kansas dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.   Apart from the fact that this is a new church, on a huge scale, that looks like a church (and then some!), the video is interesting from the point of view of the details of the construction.  It’s worth viewing just to see how they use scaffolding to get into the cupola and prepare it with sprinklers so that the heads coincide with the stars that will be painted in the dome.

It is not necessary to build churches that look like municipal airports.

Each age of the Church and each cultural ethnic region has its own self-descriptive art forms. Church architecture expresses the Catholic identity of those who build it. If you look around at a lot of our churches, built in the past few decades, that’s pretty frightening. It’s as if they either didn’t know the Faith, or they hated it.

The space we choose to create for our sacred liturgical worship both shapes and reveals our identity. Worship interiorized leads to outward expression, both in our concrete acts in life and in the “ornamentation” of our liturgical action. All of these components express and form.

Liturgy is doctrine. Doctrine informs our minds and hearts. Hearts and minds hunger for more. Grace builds on nature. Love compels us back to worship and further study of the Faith.

Everything we are and all to which we aspire must begin in our worship and be brought back to it.

This is why the attack on Tradition is suicidal. But, there are some want to commit suicide and bring others with them. They don’t realize it, but those who actively attack traditional liturgical worship are ecclesial suicide bombers. It’s all so very sad. It urges us to try to understand what made them want that. They weren’t born that way, they were made into that. We, for our part, have to examine ourselves carefully to discern what part in their mortal devolution we may have played.

I digress.

These days we see grand churches such as the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wisconsin and the new Cathedral in Knoxville.

It is not obligatory to build ugly churches.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  2. Gab says:

    “Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour.” – Pope Benedict XVI

  3. In the context of rebuilding the House of Commons after the Blitz, Winston Churchill said: we shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us. 100%.

    Not only do we not need to build ugly churches, we also don’t need to build silent churches. Another very interesting video shows the casting of the big bell for that SSPX church, which was live-streamed from the foundry in France, with commentary in English and French. A priest was on hand to bless the bronze as it was poured into the mold.

    I’ve noticed over the years that church bells have gone silent. When I was a kid, my parish had electronic bells, but I could still hear them all the way from home. They rang the Westminster chimes at the top and bottom of the hour all around the clock; they rang the Angelus; they rang to announce that Mass was about to start; and there were special chimes at noon (and I think also midnight) that included a hymn. Now there are hardly any bells anywhere anymore, or else they are muted so that you have to be standing in the parking lot to hear them. Maybe the absence of Catholic church bells is a reason why we have had so many deadly storms and other natural disasters in recent years.

    I’m glad the SSPX is bringing back bells.

  4. mcferran says:

    I do not think that this building project has been approved by the ordinary, the Archbishop of Kansas City.

    [Oh NO! Say it ain’t SO!]

  5. monstrance says:

    Much of the church construction that took place in the 1960’s and 70’s was perfectly in line with the wreckovation that was occurring in the Church. Nasty stuff.
    Plus – ugly, plain, square buildings are a lot cheaper to build.

  6. Michael says:

    You might like this newly built abbey as well – the Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey in Southern California:

  7. timothy get says:


  8. TheBackPew says:

    There is a suburban parish in Kansas City, MO of fewer than 1500 families that has raised more than $17 million to build what they are calling “A Church for the Ages.” They’re about 2/3 of the way to their goal and could use some help. This is a Diocesan parish that is trying to set an example of what is appropriate and possible. I was sold at “Unapologetically Catholic.”

  9. xavier says:

    It’s not obligatory to build ugly building tout court.
    The cult of ugly architecture needs to be permanently banned and its practitioners compelled to work in blue collar jobs


  10. monstrance says: Plus – ugly, plain, square buildings are a lot cheaper to build.

    Uhhhh…no. The hideous, brutalist Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, which Cardinal Mahony described as his spirit in stone, cost at least a quarter of a billion.

    By contrast, the utterly (still) beautiful St. Boniface in Uniontown, Washington, which was built at the turn of the last century by German immigrants and consecrated in 1910, cost about $20K ($20K in 1910 was about $587K in today’s dollars). Google it and feast your eyes on the pictures. I was last there four years ago and it hadn’t changed. There is an idiotic Novus Ordo altar in front of the old high altar and reredos, but it at least matches the decor of the rest of the interior, and all the old furnishings are still in place.

    May this church, and all such surviving old churches, one day again be wholly devoted to the Mass for which they were built. May the beautiful old churches that were wreckovated or sold off, be regained and restored. And may the pill boxes, bunkers and Soviet missile silos that now serve as churches be utterly thrown down, with not one stone remaining on another.

  11. Dan says:

    “I do not think that this building project has been approved by the ordinary, the Archbishop of Kansas City.”

    I would bet however that the ordinary was notified through appropriate channels even if explicit permission wasn’t asked for or granted. The SSPX are not generally as disobedient as they are portrayed and general make all necessary notifications to the diocese in which they reside.

  12. Neal says:

    Anita Moore: “Uhh, no.”

    Structural engineer here. The correct answer is yes. That doesn’t prevent architects, engineers, and construction contractors from jacking up the cost (if you have the money) by introducing special materials and design details. The problem is the building’s source of inspiration, which appears to be the local Walmart.

  13. JGavin says:

    Quite frankly I wonder whether this architectural practice has contributed mightily to the seeming Great Apostasy in which we find ourselves? I think this with poor catechetics, poor liturgy and often lackadaisical clergy has led to the current crisis.

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