Rorate Caeli

Building the Church of E.T.

An ongoing exhibit in Rome (running from May 2 to June 2) is presenting 21 project proposals for the construction of three new parish complexes in Italy. These proposals had been submitted as part of a national competition organized and announced by the Italian Episcopal Conference in 2011, in line with the Italian hierarchy's goal of  "promoting the quality of sacred architecture". 

The 21 project proposals relate to the construction of three churches, one each in the north (St. James the Apostle, Ferrara), center (St. Ignatius of Laconi, Olbia) and south (St. Maria Goretti, Mormanno) of Italy, or 7 proposals per church. 

And the winners of the competition  are:

For the Parish of St. James the Apostle in Ferrara: 

For the Parish of St. Ignatius of Laconi in Olbia:

For the Parish of St. Maria Goretti in Mormanno:

H/t to Francesco Colafemmina of Fides et Forma for the links and pictures.

Unfortunately, as the brave little blog Fides et Forma has demonstrated in the past several years in numerous posts, these church designs are but the latest manifestations of the craze for ultra-modern "sacred art and architecture" being promoted by the Church in Italy. 


  1. Anonymous6:32 AM

    Disgusting. Cool for a hotel, not for a place where the Holy Sacrifice is offered. Looks like some Orwellian state-run Church in a totally post-Christian world... a place where all gather and 'worship'. Really scary.

  2. ALL new churches MUST provide for the possibility of the celebration of Extraordinary Form Masses.

    Of these three projects, only the one for St. Ignatius of Laconi in Olbia seems to obey this rule -- except of course if the tabernacle has been wrongfully placed, which is very hard to tell from these photos -- if the church is oriented north/south and the tabernacle is in the chapel to the right of the altar, ad orientem but nevertheless in front of the Congregation during Mass then it's passable. It's certainly the least completely offensive of these three churches, the other two are just horrifying...

  3. If it were not for the salient facts that Sacred Tradition in the liturgy and in authoritative interpretation of Holy Scriptures are still maintained, we could not deny that the church is defective. The Novus Ordo is defective and everything within it reflects this on a sytematic level.

  4. hideous. i thought those days had long gone...

  5. Out of the 3 - the last 2 are ok with the St. Ignatius one being closest to classical.

    1. Who pays for the building of these?
    2. Are these on Vatican grounds? Where's the room for construction? Are other structures being torn down?

    Thanks for any info.

  6. Absolutely revolting.

  7. There's nothing so sad, or so damaging, than bishops trying to be cool.

  8. What's cool about this architecture?

    St Viviana's in LA was "cool".

  9. polycarped said:

    "hideous. i thought those days had long gone..."

    Are you kidding?!!! They've only just begun!!!


    Nowhere to kneel
    No Tabernacle
    No candle red
    Just marble crackle

    A sepulchre
    Deathly white
    To help good souls
    Despair, take flight

    That's WHAT they want
    That is their plan
    Then mock, "You dis -
    obedient man!"

    But in the depths
    Of doctrine deep
    Sails the Ship
    That will not sleep

    Full of disobedient
    Obeying Christ
    In priests that keep

    The Barque of Peter
    On its course
    Though her bowels be bricked
    By a sinister source

    Then damn the torpedoes
    Will blast through the block
    Full speed ahead

    No sepulchre whites
    Disobedience, despairs
    Only seas of gold Masses
    By the Archbishop's Peres!

  10. All sense of The Sacred is lost in these designs.Is that a landing pad I see in one.

  11. Viva la Garbage! The sooner the modernists destroy the Church the better. Then God with traditionalists will create a new Christendom.

  12. This is relevant:

  13. What is going on in Europe? And we thought the U.S. was kookoo for cocoa puffs.

  14. So now the Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital; and all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, "Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor's new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!" in short, no one would allow that he could not see these much-admired clothes; because, in doing so, he would have declared himself either a simpleton or unfit for his office. Certainly, none of the Emperor's various suits, had ever made so great an impression, as these invisible ones.

    "But the Emperor has nothing at all on!" said a little child.

  15. At least in the last one, the designer was honest enough to only put a few seats in.

  16. Anonymous1:12 PM

    Positively demonic.

    Furthermore, in my nearly 51 years of life on this planet, which included four working in that locus of evil known as Manhattan Island, I have never once heard anyone express a preference for this obscene antithesis of Divine beauty over classical and traditionally grounded architecture.

    So, where the hell do these people come from?...Oh yeah...

  17. Those buildings are so cold and uninviting that the conclusion is unavoidable that they are products of the homoheresy and homoideology rampant in the Church. As Our Lady said at Fatima, only She can help us now.

  18. Anonymous1:56 PM

    Victoria, saying a bishop is a Freemason is a serious charge. Please send evidence.

  19. Generally in the West, all the arts are sick, including Architecture.

  20. Two conclusions follow:

    1. Most Italian prelates have managed not only to lose all sense of taste, but tradition, too.

    2. As with similar efforts in recent years, these churches will be effective at producing unchurched agnostics more than anything else.

    Not least because they don't pass the "wedding test": Most young women won't want to be married in such austere eccentricities. They'll opt for the beach wedding, if they get married at all.

  21. "At least in the last one, the designer was honest enough to only put a few seats in."

    Thread winner.

  22. Anonymous2:33 PM

    D. Harold, you can stop trying to comment now. You will no longer get through.

  23. I think there are a few interesting points in here.

    I like traditional architecture, particularly the Gothic, which was, in its own day, controversial. I also like experimental architecture, playing with light and space can can produce structures that are quite wonderful to experience. The Art Gallery here in Milwaukee is one such example (in my own taste, at least). In some ways, this is the problem with the application of this kind of architecture to a sacred space; the building is about itself, and not conformed to the worship which occurs in it.

    These structures are, actually, kind of interesting in their uze of light and shape. They are meant to evoke something ethereal. Compared to the drab and even utilitarian church structures of the 40's-80's, which more and more looked like ugly, dated living rooms, perhaps this is an improvement. At the very least they recognize that something spiritual happens in them. Alas, what that spiritual act is, I'm afraid the architects are not quite sure.

    The point, therefore, that they could belong to an Orwellian or Fordian (for you Brave New World lovers) religion is well made. These churches are not recognizably christoform, which is their biggest problem. Church are is not opposed to development, and the kind of work done here, may, to our surprise, find its ways into an orthodox (in the original sense, right-worshipping) building, which in its very structure and ornamentation preaches Christ.

  24. is it to hard to give us a church? not an award winning design. there is no continuity at all! a complete break from tradition!

  25. Anonymous3:28 PM

    They look like prisons.

  26. I LOVE that look, it is so funky. The Science Fiction pulp fiction art of the Fifties is SO fun. Man, these are CLASSIC. These are not science fiction pulp cover art...they are... CHURCHES??? Uh.... nevermind.

  27. What garbage! It looks like a Communist's idea of a church. I hope these buildings are never erected.

  28. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Is that just a chapel of St. Maria Goretti?!? It looks like it seats about 30! Is that a tacit admission of how pathetic Mass attendance is in Italy? Where are the kneelers? They look like the guys pouring concrete park benches were on acid.

    I hate the ugle branches supporting the baptismal font! They look like some wiccan pile of sticks.

    This post-modern hedonism at its worst. The art is abysmally ugly. This will not win souls. And I bet the lighting does not work a third as well in reality as it does in the artwork. What about a cloudy day?

    All of these structures will look ridiculously dated in 50 years, if not much less. They already look bizaare.

    I agree with the comment that there is nothing more pathetic than a bunch of bishops trying to look cool.

  29. Oh my : SAD
    Everyone one of them is revolting to say the least .
    Father forgive them for they know not what they do!
    Mercy Jesus, Mercy!

  30. Anonymous4:41 PM

    popes and councils may pass away,
    but the Roman Curia will always stay

  31. I loved all of the old Star Trek tv series shows (in fact I have been watching them on Netflix again with my kids) but not when applied to a church.
    They all seem VERY STERILE.... great for pro-abort catholics and the contraception crowd.

    Please God beam me up if this is our future

  32. Objections based on the Orwellianism of this filth while simultaneously using newspeak such as "Extraordinary Form." Interesting.

  33. Anonymous7:52 PM

    I foresee my legally-blind father breaking his neck in the lighting in any of these...

  34. When you look at the modernist banjo church building at Fatima, you get an idea of how bold Lucifer can be and recall the words of Lucia, "The devil is in the mood for a decisive battle".

  35. Satan's work indeed.
    What a lot of hotel lobby garbage, soulless places if ever I saw any. These "bishops" should go away!
    What a disaster for Italy!
    God bless the Pope, may he have the courage to smash these silly ideas ( in a loving way).

  36. Beyond ugly, not the religion I know and love I'm afraid...

  37. I can tell the last one is an Italian church. It has pasta on top! The diocese could continue the theme with an Antipasto church, a Bistecca church and a Pane or Dolce church!

    Someone should tell the Church these designs are art, expressions of the architects' imaginations. They're to be appreciated. No one is silly enough to actually build them, any more than you see anyone wearing the outlandish outfits you see on the catwalks at the big fashion shows.

    The middle one looks like nothing so much as an "interstate megachurch" one sees in the USA. It's not even very interesting. The other two, I actually like, but I have my doubts about their suitability for Catholic worship.

    There was a Church in Swansea, IL (near St. Louis) we used to call the "UFO Church." It was white and round and really dumb looking. It has been torn down for commercial development.

  38. Athelstane's comment re the 'wedding test' is very telling.
    A very useful rule of thumb tapping our nature rather than some contrived social taste.
    I suspect the 'funeral test' might give similar results.

    Another, though less certain test, is the 'family living room' test - would you inflict this on your own family?

  39. Kinda goes with some of the modern-day "sacred music." Clutters up the mind. I can see it leading to this kind of architecture. Depressing.

  40. This type or architecture would make me think more of waiting for the return of E.T. than for the return of Christ. Disgusting architecture for a place that is supposed to be a temple for the worship of God.

  41. You could park the Enterprise in the last one Capt Kirk. Reminds me of a newly built college student union that looked vaguely like a parking garage. At the opening, a guest said to the college prez, "I think it'll be very nice when it's finished." He replied, "It IS finished."

  42. I'd like to offer the following essays on today's architectural brutalism by one of today's greatest essayists, Theodore Dalrymple. Search the internet for the five of them:

    The Architect as Totalitarian Dalrymple

    La Cité, C’est Moi: Vainglorious French architects set out to destroy Paris Dalrymple

    Do Sties Make Pigs? Dalrymple

    The Vandals in Retreat: Britain rediscovers its architectural heritage Dalrymple

    Ancient and/or Modern Dalrymple

  43. I'd rather just hear a mass outdoors, like this!

  44. At the risk of being vilified, I have to say the last, St. Maria Goretti in Mormanno, has a sense of the ethereal. I am, by no means, a fan of modern architecture, but at least with the last there is a sense of the sacred in airy nature of the design, but on the whole a little spartan for my taste. Its not that I seek to replicate past artistic forms, so much, as the supremacy of function over form and stark minimalism so prevalent in modern architecture is opposed to the "spirit" behind sacred architecture. A sacred space should provide inspiration and a focal point for meditation. It should not be a sterile, cold, clinical interior. As I said though, the last seems to represent at the very least a concerted effort to harmonize form and function in an reverential and spiritual manner, though much could be done to improve it, I think.

  45. Banal, tasteless, lacking in divine inspiration, and reminiscent of the emptiness of Zwingli churches. Those are just a few of the terms I would choose to describe these monstrosities. They also give me flashbacks of a VII church I attended as a child.

    All in all, a sad reflection on the murky miasma we laughingly refer to as Twenty-First Century civilization.

  46. Who are these people determined to destroy the Church? Is it just Freemason successors of the French Revolution or the fruit of an even deeper plot? Vatican Council II opened the doors of the Catholic Church to a secular world determined to destroy religion, marriage and Western Civilization.

    The amazing thing about this is that the charge of the Church is to propagate faith in Christ.

    These parishes will be a cross for many good people trying to live as Catholics in a hostile society. I know, because three times a month I must attend a parish built in 1968 that is comparable to these hideous designs.

    Vatican II was a tragedy; we must oppose it and any suggestion of Vatican III.

  47. Very beautiful spaces...I would take my family to each of these Churches to celebrate the Mass and pray. I'm sure that the transition from Romanesque to Byzantine to Gothic and Baroque was greeted with some of the same vitriol that we are seeing in this discussion. Today's world has as much to offer as any time period of the past people. Be not afraid...

  48. Scientology prayer room, anyone?

  49. I vote for the St. Maria Goretti church. It's got a rollercoaster on the roof, just like the New York, New York hotel and casino in Las Vegas!

  50. Anonymous6:56 AM

    freemason architects???

  51. Ah, the Italian Catholic Church,

    where it is forever 1976...

    and never Christmas.


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