Blog Template Theology of the Body: Worshipping with Saint Nicholas

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Worshipping with Saint Nicholas

This morning my wife and I found ourselves worshipping at St. Mary's Cathedral in Austin. I was blown away by how beautiful and old the cathedral was. The lovely brown wood and arches were magnificent and the blue paint in the back of the church was just spectacular. The picture, unfortunately, doesn't do it justice.

After mass my wife pointed out the historic marker outside of the church to me and said, "you won't believe this..." It turns out that the cathedral had been designed by my favorite architect, Nicholas Clayton, probably the most famous architect in Texas from about 1873 to 1910. In fact, St. Mary's was his first individually commissioned work. I should have picked it up just from sitting in the church, as his churches all have a certain feel to them -- there is something about his design which makes it easy to slip into a worshipful state of mind, mostly like the result of his own pious devotion.

He's not a saint, of course, regardless of what my headline says, but I hope he has a special place in heaven for the beauty he brings to worship even now.

I'm thinking about taking a "Nicholas Clayton pilgrimage" to visit all of his existing churches and worship in each one of them. Below is the list of extant churches, though I'd estimate that at least that many are no longer in existence. This does not include a whole host of buildings he built for Ursuline nuns, schools and other religiously used buildings which are also gone (as a Dallasite, I was interested to see that he designed the first building, unfortunately no longer extant, for Ursuline Academy, a very tony girls school near my house)

If you live near any of these churches, take some time to visit one. Each link will take you to a picture of the building - I was able to find pictures for all of his churches still in existence except for two. (If you are interested, the best book on Clayton is Clayton's Galveston: The Architecture of Nicholas J. Clayton and his contemporaries)

Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe - Dallas (unfortunately they've completely ruined the interior by painting over the wood. The original plans called for a bell tower, but originally they couldn't afford it. The church completed the bell tower a century later)

St. Mary's Cathedral - Austin

Galveston First Presbyterian Church

St. Patrick's Catholic Church - Galveston

St. Edward's University main building - Austin (and here)

St. Joseph's Catholic Church - Macon, GA

Sacred Heart Catholic Church - Palestine, TX

Grace Episcopal Church - Galveston, TX

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral - Alexandria, LA (and here)

St. Patrick's parish - Denison, TX

Holy Trinity Church - Shreveport, LA (some alterations to Clayton's original plan)

St. Matthew's Church - Monroe, LA

St. Mary's Church - Victoria, TX

St. Mary's Church - Sherman, TX (click on link to see the grounds. They are building a new church, so I'm worried that they'll be tearing down the old one)

Sacred Heart Church - Augusta, GA (no longer a church. Also building design was plagiarized from Clayton by the Jesuit priest who is designated as the architect. The plans were originally from Clayton's ideas for Sacred Heart, Galveston, which were never used there)

Sacred Heart Church - Tampa, FL
(not finished according to original plan, as it is missing some domes and towers)