Friday, April 30
Padre Pio and the Slightly Squashed Armadillo
(Suddenly, the pilgrim glanced up, alerted something horrible was about to happen from the approaching rendition of the Theme from Jaws.)
What is it these days with mod church architects and armadillos? The Taj Mahoney looks like a giant cubic space-armadillo from the Vogsphere, and now Renzo Piano's humble little gigantic slightly-smaller-than-St. Peter's shrine to Padre Pio in Puglia has been described--by a journalist in a glowing review, no less--as a "slightly squashed armadillo." I learned this fun fact (as well as the fact that St. Pio is best described as a "shaman," apparently) while reading up for an article I just finished writing on the subject and which will probably make it into the next edition of Sacred Architecture if they have enough room. I tried very hard to be objective, which is why the following phrases and sentences do not appear in the article. Think of this as the gag reel.
"Blaming the Masons for the church's design problems is, at the very least, unimaginative. For one thing, the Masons have better taste."
"It does not help the tabernacle resembles nothing so much as the scary black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey." It does, by the way, I'm not kidding.
"...and it will not work, unless we adopt a Eucharistic theology which is positively Lovecraftian to explain it..."
A reference to Elvis sightings, Roswell, and weather ballooms (it made sense in context, and then, on re-reading it, it didn't.)
"...resembling the shell of a turtle but with none of its organic charm."
"One reason the campanile is more successful is it appears to have accidentally wandered in from another building."
"I am afraid that altar cross is going to come to life and eat me in my sleep."
"...Piero Marini, the poster-boy for liberal liturgy and favorite chew-toy of traditionalists..." (including, despite my efforts to be charitable, myself)
I did, however, manage to find a way to fit in the phrases "medieval zoo" and "High Church Episcopalian pillow-fight," though the latter was a quote from a Boston Globe columnist concerning the fracas over Piano's successful attempt to get his mitts on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's proposed expansion.