Thursday, May 27


Notre Dame student Mike Ryan's vision of Our Lady of Clear Creek

Concerning the Oklahoma Escorial

The Notre Dame School of Architecture has updated its image gallery to include several gems of ecclesiastical design, such as several wonderful hyperbaroque proposals for the monastic complex of Our Lady of Clear Creek, Oklahoma, as well as the equally delightfully-named parish church of Our Lady, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and a proposal for the ubiquitously absent belltowers of St. Peter's Basilica.

In particular, the Clear Creek projects merit mention. Thomas Gordon Smith, the critic for the design exercise, is doing it for real, though without the enjoyable roccoco extravagance of some of the proposals. Considering the Clear Creek monks trace their heritage back to both ancient Benedictine and stern Carthusian roots, the stark Romanesque character of this sprawling "Oklahoma Escorial" is wholly appropriate. Even more intriguing is the fact that Clear Creek, a branch foundation of the abbey of Fontgombault in France, in turn a monastery which traces its origins back to Solesmes. Appropriately enough for a spiritual child of the abbey of Dom Guéranger, the new Oklahoma foundation preserves the old abbey's liturgical traditions (and Tridentine indult), with a sung High Mass every day at 10 AM. One can only hope that the sturdy, sober monks of Clear Creek will continue their order's chain of churches and add to their Oklahoma Escorial a Dakota Melk, a Chicago St. Denis, or even a Colorado Montecassino as the times and seasons move onward.

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