Monday, February 05, 2007

Photos of Little Flower Church, in Richmond Heights, Missouri

Here are photos of Little Flower Church, located in Richmond Heights, Missouri. The church is about 8 ½ road miles west of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, in suburban Saint Louis County.

Click on any photo for a larger version.

Click here for more exterior photos.

This is one of the few round Catholic churches in the region; others include Saint Mary in Madison, Illinois, and Saint Anslem in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

This church is of transitional style, built of native limestone, and was completed in 1949. The parish dates from 1925. Local Catholic architect Harry Hellmuth designed the church; his brother George W. was also an architect, and his nephew George went on to co-found the giant architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK).

The church is in a residential neighborhood, and is not visible from any major thoroughfare, nor does it has a prominent spire visible from a distance; the only clues of its existence are a few discrete road signs nearby.

The name of the town of Richmond Heights was suggested by Robert E. Lee, because the area reminded him of his native Richmond, Virginia.

Many round churches are in the Modern style, and tend to reflect post-Conciliar theological ideas; this church is an exception.

The altar is in the center of the church, and it is covered by a baldachinum, or canopy. The tradition of covering altars is lost to history and probably dates at least to the Roman catacombs or even the Jewish Temple. Traditionally, baldacchinos for either altars or for royalty were canopies of gold or white silk raised on four supports, and this example reflects that tradition, with the interior of the canopy made to look like shiny, golden fabric. The word 'baldachinum' is derived from Baghdad (the city in modern-day Iraq), where Europeans purchased this kind of silk. Until the Renaissance, the baldacchino was called a ciborium (Latin for a type of cup).

A view of the nave, which is 97 feet in diameter. The domed ceiling, made of 4-1/2 inch thick reinforced concrete, is painted white, and light fixtures seen here direct their illumination upward to the ceiling. In the center of the dome is additional lighting, and a skylight, 25 feet in diameter.

According to the 2007 census, this church has approximately 1,380 parishioners.

Detail of the altar, showing the altar rail, marble floor, and Persian carpet.

The narthex has a lending library of Catholic books.

A view down the circumferential aisle, showing what is perhaps the stairs to the pulpit.

A view down the aisle in the other direction. The outside wall of the aisle is octagonal, reflecting the traditional form of the baptismal font, while the interior of the nave is circular, although still exhibiting eight-fold symmetry. Numerous shrines, statues, and chapels are around the aisle.

The lectionary, below the San Damiano Cross of Saint Francis.

The baptistery.

Sacred Heart chapel. The side-chapels in this church are quite large, and each could easily hold dozens of worshipers.

Saint Dismas, 'the Good Thief', who was crucified next to Our Lord. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. [Luke 23:43]

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with a statue of the Carmelite nun, Saint Thérèse de Lisieux, the Little Flower (1873-1897).

Arched doorway into one of the side-chapels.

The life-sized Crucifix is visible directly behind the altar upon entering the main door of the church.

Exterior of one of the chapels at night.

The church is adjacent to Interstate 64, which is perhaps the busiest highway in the State. This road once had the more picturesque name "Daniel Boone Expressway", since it led into the land once settled by that early pioneer. This section of the highway is lined by large retail stores and shopping malls. I wasn't able to hear highway noise from inside of the church.

1264 Arch Terrace
Richmond Heights, Missouri 63117


  1. I've never seen anything quite like it. It's wonderful.

  2. While the "church in the round" is probably done here as well as it can, I'm stil not a fan of it. The first time I went there, I was absolutely confused as to where anything was.

  3. I notice that people genuflect towards the altar, and not in the direction of the tabernacle.

  4. I grew up in the neighborhood, and loved it. They used to say that the foundinfg pastor, Msgr. Tammany, designed after Santo Stefano Rotondo, in Rome.

  5. I sang at this church for a wedding last year. The sound is amazing. The church is absolutely beautiful. I fell in love and I would love to get married there myself.

  6. I grew up in this parish, and was baptized and married there. It is a great church and a wonderful parish. I moved away many years ago, but seeing the photos here was like a nice trip home!