Thursday, July 10, 2008

St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Olivia, MN


The final stop I made before arriving at St. John's Abbey was in Olivia, Minnesota at St. Aloysius Church. When I stopped there last year, they were in the middle of a renovation, so I knew I wanted to see the results... and WOW! I would suggest watching this video. It gives one a sense of what was involved in the massive renovation that this church just completed. The actual segment about the church starts at 1:44.

I have visited hundreds of churches, mostly in rural areas and I must say that this
church holds pride of place among them. The quality of materials, lack of clutter, and overall design and sense of aesthetics makes this church an absolute gem among rural churches.Furthermore, the recent renovation has only strengthened these impressive qualities. I have never been in a church that has such a warm, yet light and airy feel to it. It's truly something one must experience in person.

A few other things worth pointing out: the building has an amazing acoustic, due in large part to the terrazzo flooring throughout. I would like to hear the Reuter pipe organ at it's full potential in this space. The newly designed baptistry is also worth noting, as well as the fact that all the liturgical furniture (altar, ambo, font) were newly commissioned in Italy specifically for this church.

The exterior holds very true to the italianate architectural style in which the church was built - freestanding campanile, thick
ambulatory walls with small windows, and an entrance portico. The exterior is also very rich in glazed terra cotta ornamentation.I will post before and after renovation photos as soon as I find them!


3 comments:

JessMcCaslin said...

Awesome! I love that you've put your pics online. I've always wanted to see them. At some point, you'll have to go to Mexico and check out the churches there. They are beautiful. And you wouldn't even have to drive. Just walk 5 blocks and bada-big-bada-boom, another Catholic church rises in front of you! From marble to volcanic ash. You'd be in heaven!

Mary Jo said...

I grew up in this church and have never seen another like it. I loved it there and had hoped to be married there. You feel in the presence of God there, not like in the buildings of today. Fr, P. had many dinners at our home and as children we were scared of that white haird man...i think we thought he was God! Thank you for your work.

Jonathan Mayer said...

I was going to suggest you visit St. Aloysius in Olivia, but now I see you already have! I had only seen it from the exterior, and after the renovation. But I immediately recognized the Italian architecture from my visit to Italy. From the outside it bears a resemblance to Sant. Apollinare in Classe. The interior is very different, though. I certainly didn't expect to see a barrel-vault ceiling! It is very beautiful though, and I'm glad they made efforts to restore it.