Congratulations, St. John’s!

St. John’s Abbey Church was featured by Minnesota Public Radio in its “Celebrating Minnesota Architecture” series today.

The church, which will turn fifty this fall, was designed by architect Marcel Breuer.

Chris Hudson, editor of Architecture Minnesota Magazine, who nominated St. John’s, also submitted an impressive photograph (you can see it with the story). He observed:

This image by photographer Paul Crosby captures both the breathtaking volume of the interior and how that monumentality somehow becomes intimate with the rich texture and patterns of the board-formed concrete. I could sit in this church for days.

Now, how many of you could truthfully say that you would want to sit in your own church for days, hmm?

Check out the whole thing—including the photo—here.

Congratulations, St. John’s!

7 thoughts on “Congratulations, St. John’s!

  1. Happy memories of several visits as this was under construction! What a great space! Awesome in the best sense.

  2. “The Benedictine tradition at its best challenges us to think boldly and to cast our ideals in forms which will be valid for centuries to come….”

    What a pity Abbot Baldwin’s call for a bold architectural statement for St. John’s, with painfully few exceptions (largely Benedictine churches), wasn’t taken up by the rest of the American Catholic Church over the past 50 years.

  3. I think that’s a rather beautiful church even though it isn’t what I typically like. It has a sort of ancient/medieval quality to it while still having that very mid-20th Century space-age vibe. IMO, it’s important for Churches to have atmosphere, and this has loads of it.

    While my favorite churches tend to be Victorian, I have a real fondness for late 50s/early 1960’s Catholic churches in general. They interest me because they still tried to be modern while still working within the “traditional” or established mode for what church architecture should be. You get to see a 1960’s interpretation of things like altar canopies, side altars, and communion railings.

    I’m curious as to how original the church interior is. Sometimes with churches from this era you have a hard time telling how much of it is the original architect’s vision and how much is the result of 1970’s church re-orderings.

    1. Jack, you even managed to turn what was in your first two paragraphs an (almost) entirely positive comment into a “Prophecy of Doom” exercise in your last paragraph.

      You guys just cannot help yourselves!

      1. I told you I would ignore you, yet you seem to want to badger me constantly. Oh well, your creepy obsession with me lately is sort of interesting.

        Anyone with an interest in architecture would have asked the same question. It is a historical reality that many churches were remodeled in the 1970s and therefore do not reflect the design of the original architect (sometimes they did call the original architect back, though – I can think of one such 1960s church in Milwaukee).

        If I’d wanted to be negative, there are many other ways I could have worded the last paragraph.

    2. Jack,

      To answer your question, I believe the church has be altered very little from its original construction, though I seem to recall that it had a low tabernacle on the high altar originally, even though the celebration was intended to be versus populum. Anthony might know more about this than I do.

  4. The church appears very little altered from when I was I student there in 1963-66. And I do recall a low tabernacle. I am not sure it stayed there the whole time.

    The rumor among us pre-divinity students was that the red screen was originally intended to be or to become a mosaic, though there was some dispute about that because the organ is back there too.

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