Sunday, December 22, 2002

From the Plain Dealer:

A nice article about the wonderful little "cross-tipped" Catholic churches that dot the landscape of Western Ohio.

All is not flat in the vast field that is west-central Ohio. There are spires - dozens of them - that compete with the corn in the landscape. n the two counties of Mercer and Auglaize, 25 Catholic church buildings grace the horizon - one, it seems, at every crossroad. The area has been dubbed the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches for the many towers that rise above the trees and reach toward the heavens. The church buildings, most of which are 100 or more years old, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979; the routes that pass in front and behind are considered an Ohio Scenic Byway, one of 14 designated by the state. Take a tour of these roads, and it's impossible not to feel inspired. "When I was growing up here, I thought the whole world was like this," said Sister Barbara Ann Hoying, director of the Maria Stein Center, the former motherhouse of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. In fact, there is no other place quite like it.....

Perhaps not, but a close second would be the Painted Churches of Texas, built, like the Ohio churches, by Germans, but also by Czech immigrants, as well.

By the way, there's a description of one building, not a parish church, in Ohio:

From Maria Stein, you can travel either east to Minster, to the towering St. Augustine Church, or west to Carthagena, to the majestic St. Charles Seminary. Both are major stops on any tour of the area. St. Charles, a sprawling facility on 900 acres, was closed as a seminary in 1969, and it now serves as the retirement center for members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in America. Church officials are hoping to turn the largely empty building into an independent-living facility open to the public, and are working on securing financing. Inside the building’s Chapel of the Assumption is a stunning mosaic of Christ ascending from Jerusalem, created by a German artist and reconstructed behind the altar in the early 1960s.

We've been there. It's huge. It's got a nice Gaspar del Bufalo relic (his forearm bone). But I've got another good idea for the use of this huge, mostly empty building. Let the USCCB buy it and use it for their meetings (as well as keeping the retired priests and brothers there). It's literally in the middle of fields, away from the distractions of the city. It's a religious house. It is eminently more suitable for bishops' meetings than hotels in Dallas or DC.

Not that there aren't other enormous empty former seminaries and motherhouses available for the same purpose. But that's another issue, isn't it?

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