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Creative Minority Reader

Second Spring: Chicago's Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy

CMR is happy to give its readers a preview of a remarkable shrine in Chicago, the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, now in its final planning stages. The Sanctuary grows from the vision of Fr. Anthony Bus, the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago, who tells the story of the sanctuary in his book A Mother's Plea. The project's architect, James McCrery of Washington, DC, a specialist in classical architecture, drew the sketches shown here (click the pictures for larger images).

The sanctuary is understood as a refuge in the heart of the city, with a large exterior garden surrounding a crucifix amidst a fountain of flowing water, symbolizing the grace flowing into the world through the sacraments of the Church.

The highlight of the project is the sanctuary proper, an interior chapel for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The entire complex grows from the primacy of the reserved Sacrament in the iconic monstrance, a large sculpted and gilded image of the Ark of the Covenant (the Ark containing the tablets of the Old Law) with an image of the Virgin (the new Ark) with the Blessed Sacrament located in her womb (the new Law) sitting atop it. Surrounded by pairs of columns of 12 different marbles which symbolize the Twelve Tribes of Israel being fulfilled in the 12 apostles, the chapel will be a place of absolute silence and prayer, a place to draw down God's mercy upon the world.

The architecture draws from the tradition of Roman courtyards (especially Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome) as well as Byzantine and early Christian precedents. In a very sophisticated use of imagery and the classical orders, references to the Old and New Testaments are woven throughout the complex.

The Second Spring has indeed arrived in Chicago in the evangelical mission of prayer which will occur at the Sanctuary, but also in the sophistication of its architecture, which reconnects with the great tradition in a way completely new and needed in our times. The Sanctuary team is actively looking for generous donors to help make this worthy project a reality. It is a noble cause, has trustworthy and dedicated people seeing it to completion, and a talented architect who will prove that the great tradition of sacramental architecture and theological symbolism is still alive and well.

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Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. Someone call Cardinal Mahony.

John Hetman said...

What a treasure! With Saint John Cantius Church on Carpenter Street but a few blocks south of Saint Stanislaus Kostka and this new sanctuary, this area, in spite of massive yuppiefication, is a spiritual goldmine. My mom came to this country in 1904 and attended first Saint John Cantius and then Saint Stanislaus where she received her first communion and confirmation in 1912. Reasons among many for me to make a short trek after the 9am mass at Saint John Cantius over to Saint Stanislaus--which, by the way, is the oldest Polish church in Chicago, and a treasure in its own right--spared even when the Kennedy Expy was built in 1957-60.

Rita S. said...

Why don't they make them like this all the time? I'm really interested in an answer.

Anonymous said...

I love the inspired architecture. In the old days the church was the majestic presence in the neighborhood and the homes were more standard. Now as the suburbs have grown, some of the homes have grown in size and design while the new churches were more new age and lack some of the traditional design elements. It is nice to see the inspiration brought back. Hopefully, people will be inspired and drawn in by the Holy Spirit.

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