Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thistling in the dark

The National Cathedral Ministry Conference which wrapped up today included some tours of Milwaukee's Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. In lieu of a physical tour, here's a virtual tour and a Catesby Leigh book review in First Things that includes a critique of the renovation completed in 2002.

One controversial feature Leigh mentions is the Corona. The first rendition of the proposed renovation reminded too many people of a Hollywood version of a pagan temple. That lead to this revised version. Subsequent to that, it was proposed that the Corona depict the crown of thorns.

That, surprisingly it turns out, did not draw any known objection from Bishop Sklba. A few years later, in this column in our Archdiocesan newspaper reviewing The Passion of the Christ, he wrote,
In my judgment that level of brutality was even erroneously imposed by the film on the biblical text at times, as for example the film’s portrayal of the crown of thorns. In fact the imposition of the crown was intended to mock, not cause pain. To prove the point, I would note that the Greek word was acanthus, a thistle, the very leafy plant which decorates the top of Corinthian columns. Our traditional Catholic piety, however, would never have noticed that reality.
On your virtual tour, you can contrast The Corona as built.

P.S. Which Archbishop Weakland has called "theologically profound".

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