The houses of God

by
05 June 2015

A new book features some of the Christian architecture regarded as the best in the world, introduced by Heather Thornton McRae

shutterstock

Vision: Las Lajas, in the extreme south-west region of Nariño, in Colombia, was a remote, uninhabited gorge carved by the Guáitara River until 1754, when Rosa Mueces, a deaf mute girl, taking refuge with her mother from a sudden storm, cried out on seeing an image of the Virgin. News of the apparition spread, and pilgrims from Colombia and neighbouring Ecuador began making the arduous journey. A simple wooden chapel was replaced with successively grander buildings, ending in this, designed by J. Gualberto Pérez, and built between 1916 and 1949, funded entirely by donations. The veracity of the vision was attested by Pope Pius XII in 1954

Vision: Las Lajas, in the extreme south-west region of Nariño, in Colombia, was a remote, uninhabited gorge carved by the Guáitara River until 1754,...

TWO thousand years of Christianity have inspired some of the most important works of art and architecture known to humankind. They span not just time, but also the world.

Almost all religious traditions need a place to worship, but Christianity also requires a space for contemplation. This defining aspect of the religion created a vibrant monastic tradition. Monasteries include churches, but their underlying principle is different, because they provide for every aspect of life, allowing monks to be apart from the world.

Christian spaces of worship and contemplation were often embellished with multiple art forms. In the earliest centuries, these tended to be part of the buildings themselves. Later, more portable forms of religious art appeared, including paintings and free-standing sculpture.

Nuanced differences between Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Protestant, and other forms of Christianity shine in the simplest and humblest Christian architectural and artistic forms.

 

An edited extract from Making Sense of Christian Art and Architecture (Thames & Hudson, £9.95 (CT Bookshop, £8.95)

Forthcoming Events

16-18 February 2018
Church Times Festival of Faith & Literature

Our literary festival with a theological slant in Bloxham, Oxfordshire. Speakers include Francis Spufford, Ruth Valerio, Eve Poole, Mark Oakley, James Runcie and many others. Find out more

5-6 May 2018
Church Times Festival of Poetry
With Sarum College, Salisbury. More details coming soon - register your interest here

Latest Cartoon

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Subscribe now to get full access

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

This January, non-subscribers can read up to thirty articles for free. (You will need to register.)