A Tale of Two Domes

Earlier this summer we took a 2-week road trip to attend a conference (for me), visit family, and see the sights on the East Coast between Washington and Philadelphia. We also enjoy what I call “ecclesiastical tourism,” that is, looking for old or notable churches in the places we visit. Our trip did not disappoint.

Angeli in Excelsis

St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Zanesville, OH was built in 1898, a new Romanesque Revival building for a parish founded in 1842. The octagonal dome with its eight angels was quite an impressive sight.

Sicut Columbam

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, MD, better known as the Baltimore Basilica, is the first Catholic cathedral built in the United States. Designed by Benajmin Henry Latrobe and built between 1806 and 1821, it witnessed many important events in the history of the Church in America, including the Plenary Councils of Baltimore that gave us the Baltimore Catechism and the Catholic University of America.

Latrobe’s dome features a ring of windows which illuminate the medallion representing the Holy Spirit before the light is filtered down to the nave, giving the interior an open, airy feel.

At the Cathedral

Cathedral

August 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the death of John Lancaster Spalding, first Bishop of Peoria. The cathedral in Peoria had for some time been in need of repair and restoration, which was completed in time for this anniversary. The cathedral looks better than I’ve ever seen it, a beautiful mother church for the diocese and an offering to God.

Requiem

I also sing and direct Gregorian chant, and was asked to come with a choir to Peoria on the evening of August 24, 2016, for a Solemn Requiem Mass celebrated for Archbishop Spalding. Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, or “Tridentine” or “Latin Mass” as it is sometimes called, the way Mass was celebrated before 1964.

In the Extraordinary Form, funerals and memorial Masses without a body require a symbolic casket or platform, called a catafalque, surrounded by six candles as an actual casket with a body would be. The picture above depicts the catafalque for Archbishop Spalding: a simple black-draped pillar on which is placed a bishop’s mitre. Simple yet dignified and in keeping with the occasion.

Devotion

Devotion

Because my wife is an organist, and thus works on Sunday mornings, it’s not often we get to go to Divine Liturgy at Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church when we are visiting my parents. This makes my kids sad, because they love the extra pageantry and awesomeness of the Byzantine liturgy. Fortunately, my wife found a sub for our last trip, and we were able to go. I snagged this shot before we had to go home.

Requiem

I have written before about photographing Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. John’s Catholic Chapel. The student organization that sponsors these Masses has appreciated my work, and had me back again earlier this month for All Souls’ Day.

Dominus Sit in Corde Tuo

Dominus et Deus Meus

In my previous post I wrote something about not being satisfied with the way I had captured the decisive liturgical moment. By now I know the lighting in the church well enough to set exposure and forget it, and as I prepared I was thinking less about gear and more about finding the crucial (no pun intended) moments. I’m much more satisfied with this pair of images, particularly the second one, than I have been with most of the others I’ve taken. The more familiar you are with both your gear and your subject, the less you are distracted by technical details from making expressive images.