Friday, January 27, 2012

A NEW POSTING, over on my photography blogComposition, Part 1 - the Frame.

There, I am attempting to discover a solid foundation for composition of photos:
“I am not so naïve to believe that all I need to do is to learn rules of composition, which will automatically produce pleasing images. But neither am I satisfied the advice that I ought to simply adjust my image until it looks good to me. What if all my adjustments are unsatisfactory? Why are they not satisfactory?”
The most certain and most objective compositional element of a photograph is the frame. Is it tall, wide, narrow, or square? Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses. The article, working from that observation, attempts to delve into various theories of the photo frame.

On the one hand, we have to avoid the extreme skepticism that tells us that composition doesn’t matter at all. On the other hand, we have to avoid numerology — often found in artistic and conspiratorial discussions of the Golden Ratio, or φ (which is found in the terrible but popular book The Da Vinci Code). Then I discuss the Rule of Thirds, a common compositional tool, and discuss how it is only a very small part of the classical harmonies; the vast variety of harmonies are more like design guidelines rather than immutable laws.

Composition, Part 1 - the Frame

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
January 26, 2012


Dear Faithful and Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,


His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke

Next Tuesday, January 31, 2012, the Institute of Christ the King and the entire community at St. Francis de Sales Oratory will have the great honor and pleasure of welcoming Raymond Cardinal Burke to the Oratory. His Eminence will be the celebrant of a Solemn Benediction at 5:00 PM. Following the liturgical ceremony, there will be a reception in honor of Cardinal Burke in the Oratory Hall. Everyone is welcome and cordially invited to greet His Eminence on this joyful occasion.

Bishop Rice (left), Cardinal Burke (center), Archbishop Carlson (right)
at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis 2011.

It was nearly one year ago, on January 8, 2011, that Cardinal Burke celebrated with us a Solemn Te Deum in thanksgiving for His Eminence’ elevation to the College of Cardinals by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. We are grateful for this opportunity to renew our pledge of prayers for the Cardinal as we unite our hearts in Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.


Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Rice
With joyful anticipation, the Oratory announces that the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Francis de Sales Oratory has been scheduled for Saturday, October 20, 2010 at 10:30 AM. With Archbishop Robert Carlson’s gracious permission, the Most Reverend Edward M. Rice, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis, will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form, and offer a Pontifical High Mass.

Confirmation 2010

We are most grateful to Bishop Rice for his fatherly care on the occasion of this important milestone in the lives of the faithful of the Oratory. It will be a highlight in the liturgical life of the Oratory community!


Saint Francis de Sales

This coming Sunday we will celebrate the feast of our holy patron, Saint Francis de Sales. The Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Universal Church, patron of writers and journalists, patron of the deaf, Doctor of Charity is one of the co-patrons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Saint Francis is an inexhaustible source of the treasures of divine grace. He preaches to us in a loving and fatherly way, with the mild voice of a wise and forgiving teacher who knows how to guide us to the high mountains of heavenly happiness. Read this “Pledge of a Soul”, the “hearty protest made with the object of confirming the soul’s resolution to serve God, as a conclusion to its acts of penitence”. Who would deny our patron saint to follow him in this strong vow to love God above all things?
A hearty Protest made with the object of confirming the Soul’s resolution to serve God, as a conclusion to its acts of Penitence:

I, THE undersigned,—in the Presence of God and of all the company of Heaven, having considered the Infinite Mercy of His Heavenly Goodness towards me, a most miserable, unworthy creature, whom He has created, preserved, sustained, delivered from so many dangers, and filled with so many blessings: having above all considered the incomprehensible mercy and loving-kindness with which this most Good God has borne with me in my sinfulness, leading me so tenderly to repentance, and waiting so patiently for me till this—(present) year of my life, notwithstanding all my ingratitude, disloyalty and faithlessness, by which I have delayed turning to Him, and despising His Grace, have offended Him anew: and further, remembering that in my Baptism I was solemnly and happily dedicated to God as His child, and that in defiance of the profession then made in my name, I have so often miserably profaned my gifts, turning them against God’s Divine Majesty:—I, now coming to myself prostrate in heart and soul before the Throne of His Justice, acknowledge and confess that I am duly accused and convicted of treason against His Majesty, and guilty of the Death and Passion of Jesus Christ, by reason of the sins I have committed, for which He died, bearing the reproach of the Cross; so that I deserve nothing else save eternal damnation.

But turning to the Throne of Infinite Mercy of this Eternal God, detesting the sins of my past life with all my heart and all my strength, I humbly desire and ask grace, pardon, and mercy, with entire absolution from my sin, in virtue of the Death and Passion of that same Lord and Redeemer, on Whom I lean as the only ground of my hope. I renew the sacred promise of faithfulness to God made in my name at my Baptism; renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, abhorring their accursed suggestions, vanities and lusts, now and for all eternity. And turning to a Loving and Pitiful God, I desire, intend, and deliberately resolve to serve and love Him now and eternally, devoting my mind and all its faculties, my soul and all its powers, my heart and all its affections, my body and all its senses, to His Will. I resolve never to misuse any part of my being by opposing His Divine Will and Sovereign Majesty, to which I wholly immolate myself in intention, vowing ever to be His loyal, obedient and faithful servant without any change or recall. But if unhappily, through the promptings of the enemy, or human infirmity, I should in anywise fail in this my resolution and dedication, I do most earnestly resolve by the grace of the Holy Spirit to rise up again so soon as I shall perceive my fall, and turn anew, without any delay, to seek His Divine Mercy. This is my firm will and intention,—my inviolable, irrevocable resolution, which I make and confirm without any reserve, in the Holy Presence of God, in the sight of the Church triumphant, and before the Church militant, which is my mother, who accepts this my declaration, in the person of him who, as her representative, hears me make it. Be pleased, O Eternal, All-Powerful, and All-Loving God,—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to confirm me in this my resolution, and accept my hearty and willing offering. And inasmuch as Thou hast been pleased to inspire me with the will to make it, give me also the needful strength and grace to keep it. O God, Thou art my God, the God of my heart, my soul, and spirit, and as such I acknowledge and adore Thee, now and for all eternity. Glory be to Jesus. Amen.


Reverend Peter J. Lotz,
Pastor of St. Francis de Sales, 1878-1903
The new parish began to grow rapidly and in the year 1869 it included not only a church and a rectory but even a new school. Differences however, between the pastor and his parishioners soon began to grow and make themselves felt, so that Father Lay resigned his pastorate in the summer of 1869, and accepted a parish in the diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. After his departure, the Franciscan Fathers of St. Anthony's parish in south St. Louis administered our parish until the following September.

The second pastor, Reverend Father Peter Wigger, was then assigned to St. Francis de Sales. He had at that time just recent1y arrived from Germany. Despite the poor financial situation of the parish, he saw the need for a larger school building to take care of the great increase in the number of school children.

He purchased the property on Ohio Avenue bordering the church, and a three story school building was erected in 1872. It contained a residence for the Sisters, four large classrooms and a spacious hall. The school building was erected at the cost of $10,520.00.

The first assistant pastor came to St. Francis de Sales in 1875 in the person of Father Joseph Schroeder. The second assistant was Father J, W. Guenther, who was succeeded by Father John Peter Lotz in June 1876.

The “Girls’ Grade School” building, now known as the “1888 Building"

Father Wigger's health worsened seriously in those days, so much so that on March 11, 1878 he passed away. Father Lotz, who was Assistant Pastor at the time, immediately took charge of the parish and became eventually the third pastor. His first energies were directed toward the paying off of the debt of $30,000.00, created by building the new school. Five years later in 1883, he decided to enlarge the old church by adding a new sanctuary and a bell tower. Again five years later new demands for more school accommodations for the ever-growing parish were made. Father Lotz answered these pressing requests by building in 1888 our present grade school building. The cornerstone of this school was laid on June 10, 1888 by Archbishop Peter Kenrick, and on its completion it was designated as the "Girls' School." In the course of time this school building also served for a number of years as the high school and then again in recent years [1960s] as the parish grade school.


Mrs. Gretchen Clinton, responsible for the "Scrip-Program" at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory shares with the following recent news:
Thank you so very much to all of the people who are making the new scrip program a fundraising success!

The Oratory has scrip available for immediate purchase at the rectory or after both Sunday Masses from the following retailers:
Dierbergs - Shop-n-Save - Starbuck's - St. Louis Bread Company
JCPenny -Walmart/Sam's Club - Macy's - Land's End -LLBean
Lowe’s - Burger King - Walgreen's - CVS - Bob Evans - JoAnn Fabric
Little Ceaser's - Shell - Payless Shoes - American Express Gift cards
Subway - Taco Bell - Bob Evans and many others

By shopping with Scrip at the retailers you already frequent, a percentage of the money you spend is contributed to the Oratory.

Here are some answers to a few frequently asked scrip questions:

1. Exactly how does the Oratory make money from this program?
Through the Great Lakes Scrip Company, the Oratory purchases these cards at a reduced rate.
For example: Shop n Save offers percent 4% rebate. The Oratory buys the card for only $96. You pay $100 (you were going to spend it anyway!). The Oratory instantly earns $4.00. Think of the rebate percentage like an instant cash coupon that goes directly to the Oratory.

2. When is this program going to end?
It will not end. It is a year-round, ongoing fundraiser. Many other churches and organizations have had this program going for many years. The more participation equals more revenue.

3. Some of the retailers offer such a small percentage, why bother?
If you shop at Walmart and they handed you $2.00 for the Oratory every time you spent $100 there, would you refuse it? Certainly not! As soon as you purchase a scrip card to Walmart, the Oratory has earned that $2.00 from Walmart. The gas station is the same. Every dollar adds up. 100 families earning only $1.00 over the course of a year is $1,200. The potential is incredible.

4. What if I shop somewhere that is not on the list?
The American Express Gift Card is available. It is taken at Trader Joe's, QT, the commissary (for you military folks), and at many other locations.

5. But the American Express Gift Card only offers 1.5% back! Why should I use it?
Please see QUESTION #3 and buy some American Express gift cards for all of those other places! You can also use it at Schnucks to have even greater rewards!
To purchase or for questions about the program, please contact Mrs. Gretchen Clinton and (573) 241-5259 or the Oratory at (314) 771-3100.

Scrip order forms are available at rectory, church basement after Sunday Mass and in the bulletins.
You may also place an order online at The Oratory’s code is7B6B613B29666

Here is the calendar of liturgical events for the coming weeks. With the beginning of February we will approach the seasons of Septuagesima and Lent, well prepared by the celebration of the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin (Candlemas):

Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Thursday, February 2 - Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary 8am Low Mass and 6:30pm High Mass with blessing of the candles and procession
Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB, in his "Liturgical Year":
“The mystery of today's ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by His conception or His birth, the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blessed Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity.”
Friday, February 3 - St. Blaise blessing of throats after both 8am and 6:30pm Masses.
February 5 to March 25 - Sermons in Lent: The Beatitudes
Between February 5 (Septuagesima), and March 25 (Passion-Sunday) we will again offer sermons which are meant to be of help in our spiritual preparation for the great feast of Easter. This year Canon Avis, Father Herman and I intend to cover the Beatitudes as they are mentioned by Our Lord in the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10). The beatitudes are not only pronouncements of future perfections, but expressions of a state of the soul in unity with divine life.

This year’s sermon schedule is as follows:
February 5:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
February 12:
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth."
February 19:
"Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
February 26:
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."
March 4:
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
March 11:
"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
March 18:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."
March 25:
"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Wednesday, February 22 - Ash-Wednesday


Photo Credit: Mr. Phil Roussin

The mystery photo for this week shows a dove you have seen at church, likely many times. As a symbol of the Holy Ghost, the placement of this decoration inside the church is significant.

In the Gospels, the dove is a typical symbol of the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a dove. In Christian art, the dove is often used to portray the Holy Ghost, as in the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.

Where have you seen this particular dove at St. Francis de Sales? Tell us where this dove can be found by visiting our restoration website,, and enter your answer in theblog combox.

With the assurance of my grateful prayers in Christ the King,

Canon Michael K. WienerRector, Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Hanley House

IN 1876, the City of Saint Louis divested itself of the largely rural and remote Saint Louis County. Seeing the need for a new county seat, two local property owners, Ralph Clayton and Martin Hanley, donated land for the new courthouse.

Hanley's house is still standing and is now a museum. Here are two photos of the interior of the house:

Hanley House 1

Hanley House 2

Much of the furniture in the house is from the Hanley family.

Eagle Photo Fail

THIS PAST WEEKEND, I visited the old Chain of Rocks Bridge in north Saint Louis, which is a popular Bald eagle winter feeding area.

Some years I've seen up to a hundred of these magnificent birds, well known as the symbol of the United States, but now there is only one individual due to the mildness of weather lately. I managed only to get this shot. Is it an eagle or a boomerang?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Starry Night

Night Sky at Broemmelsiek Park, in Saint Charles County, Missouri, USA,

Christmas Decorations at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, in Belleville, Illinois

AS CATHOLICS, we can follow the ancient rhythm of the liturgical year instead of merely following the secular holiday season. For us, Christmas starts not in September, but on the Eve of Christmas itself, and continues on to the New Year.

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - exterior detail

Here are photos of the Christmas decorations at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, in Belleville, Illinois. These photos were taken before Holy Mass for the Epiphany.

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - sanctuary with Christmas decorations

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - Christmas manger scene

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - tabernacle decorated for Christmas

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - Christmas tree

The pulpit, canopy, and suspended crucifix were recently re-installed here.

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - pulpit decorated for Christmas

Saint Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - Episcopal throne

Here are my older photos of the cathedral:

Cathedral of Saint Peter, in Belleville, Illinois
Cathedral of Saint Peter, in Belleville, Illinois (interior photos)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
January 06, 2012


Dear Faithful and Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,

As we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany we are made aware of the presence of God among us. Christmas is the revelation of God made man and Epiphany the celebration of the first public acknowledgement of the Incarnation of God in Christ. Today we are invited to kneel down joyfully at the crèche again, full of holy expectation for the blessings in our lives as Catholics.


I wish you, your families and friends a blessed feast of the Epiphany and I invite you to come tonight to our 
Solemn High Mass here at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory at 6:30 PM.


Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey in December and the two Oratory members who contributed their talents and time to compile data, the results are in! They are presented in the following video. Please take a look.

Slightly more people participated in the survey this year than last. The statistical portrait generated by the new numbers is a strong copy of our first snapshot from last year. It confirms that people of all ages continue to be attracted to the beauty of the liturgy at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. One representative comment says, “The Oratory has been an essential part to the spiritual growth of our family.” The numbers show that families come from near and far to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the many liturgical and community events offered here.

However, the numbers cannot adequately measure the growing family spirit which is emerging in the life of the Oratory from day to day. As we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany today, let us thank Divine providence for what we have at the Oratory.


The present status of St. Francis de Sales Oratory would not have been possible were it not for the generosity of Raymond Cardinal Burke, who, as the Archbishop of St. Louis in 2005, helped the superiors of the Institute erect this Oratory. It was this vision which first set into motion the restoration of St. Francis de Sales. We are grateful that Cardinal Burke will revisit the Oratory and celebrate a Solemn Benediction on Tuesday, January 31, at 5:00 PM. After the ceremony, the Cardinal has generously made time to attend a reception by the faithful in the Oratory Hall.


We have begun to organize the reception for the Cardinal. We would be grateful for all help with food, set up, clean up, and monetary contribution to make this a memorable evening for everyone.

Please contact Mrs. Jenny Pekny via email at, if you are able to provide:
help with food or funding - help with set up before the reception
help during the reception, clearing tables - help after the reception, cleaning up the hall
Thank you very much for your generosity.

St. Francis de Sales, the Bishop of Geneva affectionately known as the “Doctor of Charity,” is one of the patrons of the Institute and the titular patron saint of this church. In addition to his heavenly intercessions on our behalf, his prolific writings are a great source of spiritual help, even today, nearly 400 years after they were written. This year his feast falls on the last Sunday of January. Please mark your calendars as we join the entire Institute in celebrating this patronal feast.


The effects of the sacred music from Gaudete Gala continue to reverberate long after the memorable evening ended. We received many positive comments on the beauty experienced by so many, especially after the Midnight Mass, when some of the Christmas carols were presented before the beginning of the liturgy. We are pleased to present a few more photos from the Gala for you to enjoy - if you will, a “Nachlese,” a German word with a sweet connotation of a “second harvest.”




We begin the new year 2012 with a look back at the humble beginning of this church, courtesy of the parish book produced for the centennial celebration in 1967.
In the year of 1867 when our parish of St. Francis de Sales was established there was reigning in the Eternal City of Rome Pope Pius IX, who had the longest pontificate in the history of the church - 32 years; there was presiding as Archbishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Peter Kenrick, who was leader of our Catholic faithful for over 45 years, the longest reign of any Archbishop in the history of our city, Cardinal Glennon of blessed memory reigned for almost 43 years; and there was as President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, who one year after our parish was established was almost removed from the high office of President by the first and only impeachment proceedings in the history of our country - President Johnson came within one vote of being forced to retire as President.

Against such a historical background and with the bitter Civil War still strong in the minds and memories of the people, our parish of St. Francis de Sales took its beginning on the date of April 22, 1867.

This was not a well-populated or settled neighborhood during the post Civil War years. It was rather a neighborhood of dairy farmers and dirt roads. The people who were living here then were members of the parish of SS. Peter and Paul at Eighth and Allen streets. But little by little the open prairie land became more and more populated by German Catholic people. It was in 1867 that these good German Catholics decided to establish a parish church for themselves at Gravois and Ohio.

2810 Ohio street was the scene of the first parish meeting in March of 1867, a meeting called specifically to discuss plans for the new parish church. The home belonged to one Theodore Thien. This first meeting was followed by the second and very decisive one at the home of a certain Mr. A. Van Mierlo on April 22, 1867, and it was at the second meeting that the actual decision to establish our parish was made.

The grounds at Ohio and Lynch avenues were purchased, just a few short yards north of old Gravois avenue, for $4,000.00 by the building committee, and the ground-breaking ceremony was soon underway. The construction of the new brick church was to cost $12,850.00, a goodly sum for the few parishioners at hand in those days. The cornerstone laying ceremony took place on September 15, 1867, barely five months after the actual decision to found a new parish. For this special occasion many neighboring priests and many people came and took part.

One month after the cornerstone laying ceremony Archbishop Peter Kenrick appointed the first Pastor of the parish, the Reverend Louis Lay. The new pastor resided at the home of one of the parishioners at 2845 Ohio for a year until the new rectory was built for him the following year.

Rev. Ludwig Lay 1867-1869
Meanwhile with a new pastor at hand the building of the church made rapid progress so much so that the first Mass celebrated in the new church was on Christmas morning in 1867. Actually three Masses had been announced for that day but only one could be celebrated because of the poor health of the new pastor. Father Lay, however, did make that Christmas Day a memorable one also by baptizing three children into the household of God. As for the first marriage at our parish church, this did not take place until later on April 17, 1868. There are no records any longer concerning the first funeral service from the new church.

The solemn dedication of the new church of St. Francis de Sales took place on May 24, 1868 with much special ceremony. Father Lay, the first pastor, had taken a census at that time and had counted some 800 members, fifty of which had been baptized and received into the church in less than one year. This was proof enough that a new parish church was needed for this area in south St. Louis.


Some milestones of our church were clearly marked, as indicated by this plaque. Can you remember where you have seen this plaque which recognized the special status of our church? Please visit therestoration blog and write your answer in today’s mystery photo combox.

With all best wishes and the assurance of my fervent prayers,
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

Local Boy Does Good

THE MOST REVEREND Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, will soon be made a Cardinal. Dolan was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, to the late Robert Dolan, and Shirley (née Radcliffe) Dolan, and is the oldest of five children. His father was an aircraft engineer at McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. Timothy said that he wanted to be a priest for as long as he can remember.

Dolan grew up in Saint Louis County. He spent his infancy in Maplewood, and later moved with his family to Ballwin, where they attended Holy Infant Church. He attended high school at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South and then Cardinal Glennon College, both in Shrewsbury. He continued his formal education in Rome.

Dolan was ordained to the priesthood in 1976, and served as associate pastor of Immacolata Parish in Richmond Heights, and eventually was ordained bishop in 2001, serving as auxiliary in Saint Louis, then as Archbishop of Milwaukee and then of New York. More of his biography can be seen here.

The word ‘cardinal’ comes from the Latin adjective cardinalis, which according to the Lewis and Short Dictionary means “Of or pertaining to a door-hinge” and so by analogy, “that on which something turns, depends, i. e. principal, chief” such as the cardinal points on the compass, the cardinal virtues, or cardinal numbers. The term became applied to the senior priests of major churches; the church of England still uses the title ‘cardinal’ in this manner. In the same way, we speak of a priest becoming incardinated into a diocese; that is, he becomes subject to the principal cleric of a local church. In secular terms, the Cardinals are the princes of the Church, because they are the electors of the Pope.

Spare Mosaic Tesserae from the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Available

FROM THE WEBSITE of MosaicSmalti:

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - ceiling detail

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in St. Louis, MO, contains one of the largest mosaic collections in the world. Mosaic installation began in 1912 and was finally completed in 1988. The mosaics collectively contain 42 million pieces of glass in over 7000 colors, covering 83,000 square feet. Wow!

…The majority of the mosaics were created by the Ravenna Mosaic Company of St. Louis, which was formed by August Wagner of Germany. When the mosaics were completed, the Ravenna Mosaic Company was left with an inventory of over 40,000 lbs. of Italian smalti in over 3000 shades…

In 2009, MosaicSmalti purchased this entire inventory - 40,000 lb. of Italian Smalti - and had it moved to our studios here on Cape Cod… The smalti arrived in over 1000 wooden drawers and 600 plastic buckets and it is currenlty stored in 3 storage units. Those who have visited the warehouses to see this smalti stash have coined them "Smalti Heaven" because that is truly what it is. Hundreds of shades of blues, never-before-seen shades of orange or red or pink, flesh tones to match every human on the planet. These one-of-a-kind colors, in limited amounts, are a joy to behold. They also open up a whole new world to those of us accustomed to limiting our palette to a mere 100-200 shades. (poor us!)

— [source]

Monday, January 02, 2012

100th Anniversary of Cathedral Fire to be Observed

FROM THE CATHEDRAL of Saint Peter, in Belleville Illinois:
Fire:  January 4, 1912
Centennial: Sunday, January 8, 2012, 10:30 AM Mass
                 (Will include blessing of restored historic pulpit
                  and restored Cathedra canopy)
Info: Very Rev. John T. Myler, Rector -- 618-234-1166
It was Thursday evening, January 4th, the day before first Friday.  We had been in the confessional all afternoon … Leaving, I glanced up at the main chandelier … Passing through the sacristy I cast another glance at the extensive nave of the beautiful gothic structure.  The sanctuary lamp flickered before the Blessed Sacrament. 
            Little I thought that in less than an hour all this splendor and all the labor and plannings of nearly fifty years would be little more than a mass of ruin and burning timber.-        Rev. J. H. Schlarman  
“Memoirs of the Cathedral Fire” 
            On Sunday, January 8. 2012, the people of the Cathedral of Saint Peter will observe the 100th Anniversary of the “Great Cathedral Fire” of 1912.
            Bishop Edward K. Braxton will be principal celebrant and homilist – accompanied by Bishop Stanley Schlarman and the Cathedral priests – at a 10:30 AM Pontifical Mass.  The public is invited.
            The January 8 observance will also include a “Cathedral Open House” with tours and an exhibit of historic photographs from the 1912 fire.
            Father (later Archbishop) J. H. Schlarman, at that time Rector of the Cathedral, remembered that:
            Father Tecklenburg, Father Eppmann, Father Kuhls and I said the Angelus and sat down for supper.  We had scarcely been seated at the table when the telephone and the door bell rang terrifically at the same time … Someone opened the door and shouted:
            “Fire in the Cathedral!” 
            In the same moment the housekeeper, who had answered the doorbell and the telephone called out: 
            “Father Schlarman, I believe the Cathedral is on fire!” 
            We literally flew up from our chairs and ran to the burning edifice. 
            The anniversary Mass -- on Epiphany Sunday – will recall the harsh wintery night during which the Cathedral church, which had been built in 1863, burned first from an area between the ceiling and the roof, causing burning timbers to fall, later igniting the entire interior.
            It was reported at the time that young George and Bertha Kohl, pupils at the Cathedral School, were the first to have seen the fire.
            Fire fighters from the city of Belleville were quick to the scene, but both the cold and the height of the structure prevented the growing fire from being extinguished.
            One glance at the situation told me that I had diagnosed the case correctly.  Red flames, five to six feet long, struck out on all sides of the central ventilator on the Cathedral’s roof.  I told Father Kuhls: “Go to the altar and take the Blessed Sacrament away.”
            I ran out through the steeple and as I reached the landing in front of the church I noticed that the fire department had just arrived.  I was in shirt sleeves and bareheaded, the thermometer registered about zero.  The excitement was too great, and I felt no cold.  Someone said to me, “Father, you will catch a deathly cold, take my overcoat.”  Another said, “Father, put on my hat.”  A little later a third offered me his gloves.
            At the January 8 Mass, a special tribute will be paid – a century later – to fire fighters from Belleville.  Fire fighters from other Southern Illinois cities and towns are also invited to take part.
            I ran into Third Street, where I met Chief Dinges.  I said: “Bring your hose up through the tower and go up the ladder behind the organ, there is an opening through which you can get above the ceiling and get right at the fire.” 
            The chief said he would try to reach it from below and I accompanied him into the church. He turned the nozzle up, but alas, the water did not have a pressure of thirty feet; it did not even reach the arches in the clerestory.  Then, with his men carrying hoses after him, they went up to the organ gallery and were led up to the ladder above ceiling.  There stood the firemen and the chief with the nozzle pointing right at the fire a few feet ahead of them –  but no water ! ! !
            The Cathedral choirs will sing for the January 8 Mass, under the direction of C. Dennis York, who is serving for his 50th year as Cathedral organist.  Following the Mass, a light brunch will be offered in the Cathedral Undercroft, where mounted enlargements of the several historic photographs of the fire, will be displayed.           
            Men of the congregation ran into the sanctuary to save what they might.  Carpets, altar cloths, vestments and statues from the crib were carried out.
            By this time, the ceiling of the church had caught fire.  I stood on the upper steps of old St. Peter’s for the last time and watched as the beautiful central chandelier, weighing 600 pounds, came down with a crash.  The men who had installed in previously had given me the assurance that it would not come down unless the whole church came with it.  It came true.
            Also open after the Mass and during the Open House will be the “Cathedral Museum” and the Cathedral crypt.  Five former Bishops of Belleville are interred in the Cathedral.
            Father Schlarman concluded his 1912 remembrances:
            When I returned an hour later the bare walls pointed heavenward, the stars and the silvery moon cast a soft light on a mass of ruins.  The fire raged under the floor.  The firemen were cutting holes through it to reach the flames below.
            I went to the Bishop’s house to see His Excellency, Bishop Janssen.  I found the venerable Prelate very resigned to the will of God. 
            He calmly said: “The Lord hath given it, the Lord hath taken it, the will of the Lord be done.”
200 West Harrison Street
Belleville, Illinois

Happy New Year and Most Popular of 2011

MAY EVERYONE HAVE a happy new year, in this the year of Our Lord 2012, and may this year be one of peace, prosperity, and joy.

In remembrance of the year past, here are some of the most popular postings and photographs from this website during 2010:

Billboard for Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

This is billboard, advertising the Latin Mass at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, showing a monstrance on the left, and the shield of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest on the right. The Flickr photo-sharing website, which hosts most of my photos, tells me that many people view this image every day. I'm not sure that I'd call this my best photo of the year, since I hurredly took it while driving, but it is certainly the most viewed.  My second-most viewed image is of the monstrance itself:

Monstrance, at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

This fine piece of liturgical art was made for the church itself. A crop of this photo is seen on the billboard above.

Resurrection Cemetery, in Affton, Missouri, USA - mosaic of the Crucifixion of Our Lord

A mosaic of the Crucifixion of Our Lord, at Resurrection Cemetery, in Shrewsbury, Missouri. The following mosaic of Our Lady is located nearby:

Resurrection Cemetery, in Affton, Missouri, USA - mosaic of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Carondelet Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - railroad track and bridges, at night, in the snow

A bridge and railroad tracks in the snow, at Carondelet Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

A Snowy Night in Saint Louis shows photos that I took on one bright night in the snow. It was so rare and beautiful that I was up until past 4 o'clock in the morning snapping photos. Several of the photos I took that night, as well as more than a hundred others taken at other times and places will be featured — full resolution and optimized for print — in a forthcoming book to be published by Reedy Press.

Clifton Heights Park

Clifton Heights Park, in Saint Louis, at dusk.

Cardinal Burke with seminarians, at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Cardinal Burke, with seminarians, at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.

Half a Billion is an article which discussed the architecture and philosophy behind the Gateway Arch, the great symbol of the City of Saint Louis, which is one on the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. The title of the article is the estimated cost of renovating and expanding the Arch grounds, which intends to correct some of the flaws of its existing unrelenting Modernist design.

I didn't take this photo of Archbishop Ritter, but it was one of the most popular on this website. Here His Grace leaves for Rome on an aircraft named "Star of Rome of the West"; he came back a Cardinal.

A Warning to Schools that are "Catholic In Name Only" sounds the alarm that the Federal Government now arrogantly decides for itself which schools are Catholic and which are merely Catholic in name only. The secularization of our schools must reverse.

Calvary Cemetery, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - statue face detail - monument of Maysie Walker Pittman - right side of face

Detail of a monument, at Calvary Cemetery, in Saint Louis.

Fairgrounds Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - close-up of frozen berries

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Palm Sunday procession, halted at door of church

Palm Sunday procession at the Oratory.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, in Crestwood, Missouri, USA - mosaic

Mosaic at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, in Crestwood, Missouri.

Young Conservation Area, in Jefferson County, Missouri, USA - landscape with moon

Young Conservation Area, in Jefferson County, Missouri. Photo taken by the light of the full moon. I've been inspired to take photographs at night ever since I've seen these photos of Cambridge University.

Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - suspension bridge at night in fog

Forest Park at night.

Francis Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - First flowers of spring, in the snow

Flora and fauna are always popular. See the posts Spring Flowers at Shaw's GardenSpring WildflowersMushrooms and Moss, and Birds, Beasts, and Bugs.

Silver Lake Park, in Highland, Illinois, USA - pink Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty) wildflower

Silver Lake Park, in Highland, Illinois, USA - white Spring Beauty wildflower

Silver Lake Park, in Highland, Illinois, USA - Erythronium albidum wildflower

Missouri Botanical Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - water lily 3

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - small orange mushroom


Silver Lake Park, in Highland, Illinois, USA - crawfish

Gravois Creek, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - after Spring snowfall

North Riverfront Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mississippi riverbank with two vertical sticks in fog

The articles Photos of Fog and Morning Fog shows pictures taken while enveloped by mist. Fog obscures our sight, and so is a natural symbol of mystery and divinity. Fog is a good photographic subject: by breaking the rules of Photographic Modernism, fog forces the artist to fall back on the older and more delicate principles of Pictorialism.

Cliff Cave County Park, in Mehlville, Missouri, USA - trees along Mississippi River in fog

Cliff Cave County Park, in Mehlville, Missouri, USA - two tugboats on the Mississippi River

Tower Rock in the Mississippi River, in Perry County, Missouri, USA

Tower Rock, located in the Mississippi River.

Sunrise over the Meramec River, at Shaw Nature Reserve, in Gray Summit, Missouri, USA

Dawn over the Meramec River.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Archbishop Robert Carlson

Archbishop Carlson at the Oratory.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Bust of Saint Francis de Sales

Sculpted bust of Saint Francis de Sales, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Autochromed altar of Mary, at Saint Peter Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA

Altar at Saint Peter Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri. This photograph has a muted color inspired by the old Autochrome process, the first practical method of color photography. See my posting Autochrome for more attempted examples of recreating the subtle color used by this French process . If you are technically minded and interested in this process, see my article Using ICC Profiles for Creative Color Control, which is located on my photography blog, The Refracted Light.

Calvary Cemetery, in Saint Louis Missouri, USA - ducks

I was trained in the sciences, so I occasionally like to write on the subject. See Unsolved Problems and Higgs Boson Not Found. I got a degree in physics, but a close second interest of mine was theology; as a young man, I also wanted to be an architect and design cathedrals (and secretly I still do)! See my article Build Your Own Gothic Cathedral and New Geometric Patterned Art.

My interest in ecclesiastical architecture led me to dig more deeply into art theory. The subject of Catholic Art Theory is problematical, because not too much magisterial guidance is available, that is, we don't have too many authoritative sources; however, the great Catholic arts tradition speaks for itself, and as these churches and works of art were commissioned by our bishops, this tradition is authoritatively magisterial. There are a number of ancient and more modern philosophical works that proved to be greatly influential on this tradition. Also see the article Catholic Art, which goes into some detail about the great Tradition. Also see the article On the Sublime, which describes a very important idea in the arts, which tends to be sadly neglected or confused these days.

Saint Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church, in Marine, Illinois, USA - altar

Altar at Saint Elizabeth Church, in Marine, Illinois.

Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, in Pocahontas, Illinois, USA - stained glass window with butterfly and phoenix

Stained glass window at Saint Nicholas Roman Church, in Pocahontas, Illinois.

Saint Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Highland, Illinois, USA - nave

Saint Paul Church, in Highland, Illinois.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - sign "silentium" at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Silence! At the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Augusta, Missouri, USA - exterior at sunset with rectory

Immaculate Conception, in Augusta, Missouri.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Apple Creek, Missouri, USA - outdoor statute of Saint Francis of Assis

Statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, at Saint Joseph Church, in Apple Creek, Missouri.

Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, in Cuba, Missouri, USA - exterior 1

Holy Cross, in Cuba, Missouri.

Many of my readers come to this website come for the church photos. These posts proved popular this past year:

Photos of Saint Maurus Church, in Biehle, Missouri
Photos of Saint Joseph Church, in Highland, Missouri
Some Photos of Saint Mary's Church, in Alton, Illinois
Photos of Saint Elizabeth Church, in Marine, Illinois
Photos of Saint Joseph Church, in Louisiana, Missouri

And sadly, this posting, from a few days ago:

Saint Mary's Church, in Brussels, Illinois, Destroyed by Fire

Now as it so happens I've taken photos of many more churches this past year but have been too busy/lazy to post them. Perhaps during these upcoming cold days of winter I'll work on them.