Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sanctuary Renovation: St. Mary's in Alexandria, Virginia

St. Mary's in Alexandria is the oldest Catholic parish in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was established in 1795, and the current church dates from 1826 (with an enlargement in 1856).

Exterior of St. Mary's

In January 2010, St. Mary's began a construction project to beautify the sanctuary. The contractor for the project was the Gardiner Hall International architectural firm, which has a very interesting introduction to their ecclesiastical portfolio page on their website (I encourage you to read it).

The firm also gave an overview of project (including a photo of how the sanctuary looked before construction began, and a sketch of the approved design)): ...The inspiration for this project is taken from early Maryland Jesuit Churches -- a typical Jesuit Baroque treatment above the church's original neoclassical altar and tabernacle hearkens back to the parish's establishment by Jesuits..."

The project was completed in time for Laetare Sunday, and the confirmation of children from the parish the following evening. The end result is, in my opinion, glorious.

Before pictures:

A view of the sanctuary, taken 17 March 2007

Taken 13 March 2008

A close-up on the then-Lady Chapel, taken 17 March 2007

After pictures:

The new sanctuary, taken 16 March 2010.

The sanctuary and the side chapel, now dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

A close-up of the tabernacle and the "altar of repose," which features a bas-relief of the Sacred Heart.

A close-up of the crucifix and the new backing reredo, with a pediment that contains the IHS Christogram.

The new Sacred Heart side chapel.

Besides the sanctuary, St. Mary's installed new carpeting in the side aisles and transept walkways and marble paving down the center aisle. On Friday 19 March, the feast day of St. Joseph, the parish will offer its first Traditional Latin Mass since the completion of the project. If you're in the Washington, DC area, I encourage you to attend this Mass. Even if you can't attend, do visit St. Mary's when you can and see the work they did for the greater glory of God. Their website is: St. Mary's Catholic Church.


Anonymous Ken said...

The pastor of the parish is also to be commended for trying to get an altar rail. The bishop vetoed the request, but the design leaves the necessary room for one to be constructed after he is gone.

11:02 AM  

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