Friday, October 8, 2010

St. Louis Churches

Ah, this brings back memories! When I was a seminarian at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis (2002-2004), we were given the occasional "free weekend" where we were allowed to attend Sunday Mass elsewhere. On my free weekends, I almost always went to St. Agatha's for the Tridentine Mass.

I remember the first time I went there - I literally fell in love with that parish. It brought on a crisis in my vocational discernment which divided me on whether I would remain diocesan or join a traditional order. I remained, but in the end the point was moot anyway because I left the seminary.

Anyway, I was on the blog of photographer, Mark Scott Abeln, "Rome of the West", and these pictures took me fondly down memory lane. These were from his "St. Agatha" page. The pictures were taken after the Traditional Mass was moved to St. Francis de Sales Oratory and after St. Agatha became the new Polish parish following the schism at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Here she is:

Beautiful shot of the exterior at dusk.
It is right near the Budweiser plant - you can smell brew on your way to the church!

The interior, from the back.
It was gorgeous on Sunday morning: the church would let in so much sunlight.

The interior, from the freestanding altar.
You can tell this was taken after the move because this altar was not there before.
Fr. (now Msgr.) Ed Rice told us a funny story about how he was asked to say a Novus Ordo Mass there one Saturday evening, and how he did a double-take when he got there, and said,
"Where is the altar?" Celebrating ad orientam was a new experience for him!

A close-up of the sanctuary. It was radiant on Sunday mornings.

Beautiful St. Agatha

Now to our second church: St. Francis de Sales Oratory. When I was a seminarian there, it was a Latino parish. Every Sunday, myself and a classmate would serve Sunday Vespers for the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (aka "The Pink Sisters" - their habits are pink) Fr. Ed Rice would usually treat us to dinner afterwards, and on our way home, we would always go by this big old beautiful church. One day, I asked my classmate to stop. I told him I just wanted to see if perchance we could get in for a look. Sure enough, one of the front doors opened for us (from the inside, it looked as though someone failed to lock it properly!). I walked around with my jaw dragging on the floor - it was the most beautiful church I had ever been in! It was just as it was before Vatican II - except they had added a little freestanding altar. But nothing had been removed or destroyed. It is called "the Cathedral of the South" [South St. Louis, that is]. I never did attend Mass there, and I would love to return to St. Louis to worship at the Tridentine Mass there.

The view of St. Francis while driving down I-44.

View from the front. She is tall!

View from the back. She is big!

Beautiful shots of the interior and sanctuary.

The high altar at night.

The sanctuary.

The altar and reredos, with reliquaries.

Side altar.

Stained-glass windows. They were (are) beautiful!

And now, for the "main attraction": the "Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis". I was blessed with many opportunities to worship at Mass and attend many events here, the most important of which was the episcopal installation of Archbishop Raymond Burke.

These beautiful churches are like a piece of heaven on earth. I wish I could worship at Mass every Sunday in such magnificent churches, and looking at St. Agatha's and St. Francis de Sales churches trigger a pain of the heart, an "ache" if you will, it simultaneously strikes me with a feeling of anticipation and excitement, because I know that in the next life, I will (God help me) dwell within such beauty forever and soak it in eternally.

Pictures 1 and 11 are from "Tradition for Tomorrow". Pictures 2, 3, 6 are taken from "Rome of the West". Pictures 4, 5, 9, 10 are also taken from "Rome of the West". Pictures 7 and 10 are likewise taken from "Rome of the West". Picture 8 is taken from the "Archdiocese of Washington" blog. Pictures 12-18 are also taken from "Rome of the West".


  1. Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures! If only all the churches had retained their Pre-Vatican II glory; I know my small home parish used to be much more elaborate before the 'redecoration.'

    It does make me wish to attend Mass at churches such as those, but, as you said, God will provide an eternity of beauty exceeding even that for those who are worthy. Lord, make me worthy of Your eternal reward!