Sunday Shrine– 9/14

This is the Historical Photography edition of Sunday Shrine. I found some wonderful photos on photogrammar. This is”San Jose de Gracia Church, the best preserved Mission church in the USA. It is in Trampas, New Mexico. It is January, which is why everyone is bundled up. The landscape reminds me of the area around Cloudcroft, but further reading puts in Taos County– in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  These were taken by John Collier, for the US Government. As far as my research tells me, they are in public domain.  They were taken in 1943.


⇑Proof positive that leaving the church after mass has long been a slow and social process.  Also, hats.


⇑This is what the mission church looks like from the outside, front. The photo above this one was taken inside the courtyard. Note the vegas sticking out the side. They serve a dual purpose of draining off rain, and supporting the roof slats.  The house I grew up in was built in the same school of architecture, but with updated construction techniques.

31904v⇑This is the portal. You can orient yourself by the placement of the bell in the photo above. I’m seriously considering doing a painting of this shot, it is so interesting. Did I mention I love that bell?

8d24604v⇑This is the inside of the front entrance. Also, I suspect the photographer set up this shot just so he could get that gorgeous light effect. His gamble paid off! Oddly, the rest of these are taken at the same time, but are in color.  On to the interior!


⇑Here is the a picture of the sanctuary. Looking closely you can see a panapoly of Saints, including St. Michael and Gabriel.  I’m afraid I’m not as familiar with this iconography, and the footnotes from this picture aren’t helpful.  I’m told that these were painted by the famous Santero Jose de Gracia Gonzales in 1860.

…Imagining kneeling on that floor.  Note that chairs were brought in for older folks. At least that was done in the Spanish colonial period.

1a34481vSide altar in the church dedicated to San Lorenzo and San Felipe de Jesus

1a34484vAltar dedicated to Madonna and to Santiago Matamoro.



An altar in the church dedicated to the Trinity. I think the fellow below is St. Augustine, or, more likely (based on the clothes)  St Bonaventure? The documentation on the photographs doesn’t say.

1a34485vThe altar of Nuestra Senora del Carmel on the south wall of the church

Aren’t these gorgeous?

Wikipedia also brought up this photograph of the ceiling.

⇑Author: Cqui of Wikimedia Commons, distributed under a creative commons license.

These special folks need your help. The church needs to be restuckoed every year in a special way. It was done poorly last year, and with many rains there is danger of this precious monument getting badly damaged. Please tell your friends and help out a parish in need! Here’s a link for more information.


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Water falls

The National Catholic Register had this to say about today’s human response to the barrage of news, social media, and especially facebook.  Hashtag activism taking the place of real action.  I have some different thoughts, though our sentiments are similar.

There is a psychological concept called “compassion fatigue”. While much psychology is ideology with a medical wrapper, this is a real phenomenon. It is a product of human biology, and not necessarily the unpalatable fruit of human indifference.

My concern starts focus not with the message, but the media.  I think computers and instant information has the potential to be a great good. But like anything else, it is a tool. It can lead to poison if used improperly.

And that can be summed up in the classic phrase, water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.  There is so much information. So much! Not all of it is even true, but all of it is shaped and channeled to grab your attention, to make you care, and to imply you are a horrible person if you ignore it. If you open yourself to all of it, you drown in sorrows, and it leads to despair.

After a while it becomes a wall of noise, just so you can stay sane. I believe human persons developed this so that living in cities is bearable, or surviving terrible calamity is possible.    But that doesn’t mean this sort of thing is outside your control.While the result is an uncaring facade– it must be admitted to be a tool.  A tool is a thing that is both useful for good or ill, and a thing which you have conscious use.

Certainly if you create a safe tunnel exclusively for yourself, it is not a laudable thing.  The fact remains, some acceptable solution must be brought forth to both have soft hearts and a discerning palette, yet prevent total meltdown.  This is a problem that has been going around for a long time. Longer than I’ve been around, even. Where do you think the Good Samaritan story comes from?

Where can we look to find an acceptable guide? Go too far back, and some would say, “it wouldn’t work in our time.”  But a guide who has holiness, who spoke the truth, is in order.

So I look to Bishop Sheen. He may be ‘a mere Venerable’ (and slated to say that way until the two diocese can behave like grownups). He, as a public figure, had to swim these waters before it was common.  What did he do?

1.  He did not watch the news.

2.  He spent an hour a day in front of the Blessed Eucharist.

I look at this and think, Oh, I wish I could spend an hour a day in front of the Blessed Lord. It is not quite jealousy, for I would never take such a blessing away from anyone.  I am even lucky enough to live within commute distance of a place where Adoration is available 24/7, save during masses and high holy days.  Getting there isn’t easy for me, but I make excuses.

Second, I cannot afford to be completely ignorant of day to day events. Though, it is clear that Bishop Sheen did not, either. The point is, custody of the eyes, discernment and plenty of quiet and time for reflection, and to put First Things, first.

Author: Agência Brasil

Source: Agência Brasil, Creative Commons License



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Sunday Shrine 9/7

Shrine of Our Lady of the Guard– in Ceranesi; near Genoa, Italy

Here’s what it looked like ca 1820

Here’s a map for reference:

Okay. Here’s some more modern pictures of the place…

And this is the “New Shrine”

Author: “Ratchets” on Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons License.

Here’s a closeup–

Author: Racchets Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License

Here’s the chapel of the apparition:

Author is Dapa19, Wikimedia Commons, Creative commons license.

While I could not find a picture of the statue that was placed inside this place, there is a copy of it at the Vatican that mirrors it.

This image has been released into the Public Domain.

The story is as follows. (From Wikipedia)

According to tradition, on August 29, 1490, the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant called Benedetto Pareto and asked him to build a chapel on the mountain. Pareto was surprised and replied that he was only a poor man and would not be able to do that. But the Virgin Mary exhorted him by saying “Do not be afraid!”

Nevertheless, Pareto went home and did not tell anyone about the apparition. A few days later, he fell from a tree and was seriously injured. The Virgin Mary appeared to him again and he was miraculously healed. The event convinced him to speak about the apparition and to seek help to build the chapel.


I will do more investigating later. I’m afraid this was a busy week. Have a blessed Sunday!

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Words… not necessary. (saith the writer)

Just look.  That is your link for the day. Hint: BIG books.  I have said enough.

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Sunday Shrine 8/31

A special thank-you to Nhyob, from wikimedia. Lovely photos! All of these are his work, btw.

Today we are brought to Saint Cardinal Neumann Parish in Sunbury, Ohio.  A modern parish building with truly breathtaking art… more signs that the stripped down dultrums seem to be going by the wayside. I can only rejoice at this development. Oh, that statue above is Cardinal Newman. I thought that would be a good introduction.

Even better is the next one.

This is the Holy Spirit Rose Window.  I really have to hand it to him– he knows how to get stained glass to come out well. I have had no end of problems with this in my photography.

This is the painting above the Altar of Repose. That’s where the Host is reserved.  It’s kind of a big deal.  Putting Agnus Dei right there makes perfect sense. In case you are wondering what those red dangling things are, those are the infamous 7 Seals from the the Book of Revelation.

Let’s see this in context, shall we?

This is the high altar. Note the placement of the painting. Also, despite the recentness, the altar is front and center– another classic I approve of.  For those of you who aren’t Catholic, that’s putting Christ where He belongs.

This is the St Joseph Shrine.  Very nice. St. Joseph doesn’t get enough play, for some reason. Traditionally, there’s a St Joseph shrine on the Right side of every sanctuary.

The side panels show how Joseph protected the Holy Family and guided them in times of trouble, both physically and spiritually.  The left Is the flight to Egypt (not exactly smooth sailing in those days) and the other was the dream that told him to take his family out of Israel during Herrod’s insanity and slaughter of the Holy Innocents.

And if this wasn’t awesome enough by itself: They have a designated Adoration Chapel!

Though this is clearly quite recent manufacture, they didn’t sell out and use cheap cutouts.

Last but certainly not least, here we have the monstrance.  I’m not sure how I’d feel about the window behind it (I can’t really see enough of it to tell), pretty much everything else in this pic is nicely done.  Glory Hallelujah!

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Who is the Architect?

Aesthetics and Message

Author: Wouter Hagens Creative Commons License

Why do we care about art? Why do we thirst for beauty?

Is it all about aesthetics? Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to worry about the message? That we knew that we could trust something that was beautiful without even looking underneath and seeing what it was?

Yeah, I admit, it would be nice. But there is a problem with that.  At that point, you have to ask yourself, what’s the difference between Art and Aesthetics? Turns out, it’s kind of a big deal.  Certainly preaching it is not art, but neither is an empty gesture.

Because… eventually you get something like this.  Cthulhu has an unfortunate accident with a bouquet of axes, and is subsequently turned into a building by an uncharitable wizard. Maybe Trajan?


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Byzantine Art

And for bonus points….

Are these not glorious?

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Sunday Shrine 8/24 (late)

This is the only shrine of note I found about Scotland, on wikimedia. (At least, officially.) Oh, and a gray sarcophagus which looked rather dead and uninspiring. This however, is fun.  Because, bits of dead people!  :-) Gems and pretty!  Also, it originally had silver Celtic knotwork on it, as the  drawing below suggests.

The above image brought to you by Johnbod. Thanks alot, dude

More goodness by Johnbod  

That clasp bit there looks enameled.

⇑There’s the drawing that helps clarify the pattern of the etching on the silver.

Brought to you by Nachosan!

Because I’m feeling pretty lazy today, you get to read the documentation actually posted in the Museum. No gratuitous research from me today.

⇑ Thanks be to Nachosan, for doing this work for me.  :)

 More good works of the by-now famous Nachosan. It is possibly a Doridozen experience! *bows*

Yep, all this for St. Columbia. Lovingly preserved by some extremely stubborn Catholics.

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Behind the Moon Door: Snippet Twelve

So I went to see Trajan. No I don’t know how I got there, Fliggett took me. And we just walked into a ball of magic, and suddenly we were there. I demanded to see the creature that they captured. whom I found out was a dark elf. That’s right, I went to an interview a dark elf assassin, the one who tried to kill me. So that’s what a drow is! Don’t judge me, I don’t read fantasy. At all.

What I saw needed to be explained. Really wish Phil had that Russian chess playing bear. Then I’d have practice for this sort of thing.+

I hadn’t expected for them to grant my request. But they did and I don’t know how I feel about that.

Wouldn’t you know, they kept her in a shed. Really nice accommodation compared to that burned out basement, but still not overly heavy on amenities. IT was more like a dungeon than made me comfortable, but isn’t that what all prisons ultimately are?

Fliggett came in with me, and stood guard as I sat across the wooden plank from her. She was chained to the chair, and some kind of force field wavered around her like air bound glitter. She growled at me, but subsided when I showed her the clay ornament.

“What did you do to the queen?” I asked.

“That’s no queen. That was a spoiled child,” she spat.

“She had royal blood. What did you do to her?” I asked.

“You won’t believe me.” She hissed back.

“I don’t know what to believe.” I said angrily.

“Fine. I tried to save her,” she…snarled.

“What?” I asked, baffled.

“See, you don’t believe me. Drack is after her for some reason. Possibly for no good. The Arcadians do not know what we know. They want to expand, to make this theirs. That would be… disastrous. I tried to get her out of there, but they found me. They took her blood to some purpose. I did my best to get her out of the way. If she isn’t found that’s because she knows what’s good for her,” she breathed. Her voice cracked.

“Where is she now?”

“I don’t know. She got away from me, as well as them. Wish her luck,” she said, her voice small.

“Who is Drack?” I asked.

“He’s the Winter King of Arcadia. I serve the Night Court of Cerese, which is technically in his command. I am an oath breaker. Which is why I am safer here.” she whispered.

“Then why are you trying to kill me?” I asked.

“I am not, nor ever was.” the creature said.

“Then, what?”

“To warn you. To prepare you. Your father is back. You must be ready for him,” she muttered.

I lurched back, as if slapped. I rubbed my face, trying to hold back tears. The words she spoke scalded me. I turned back to her.

“Do you work for him? Does he work for you?” I asked savagely.

“Your father is a cancer. He works for no one. Perhaps he works for himself. He has carved out his own place, his own people. And they are hollow and broken shells of what was once good.” Her voice was pure and prophetic.

“How can you know what is good?” I asked.

“Summer and winter are opponents, not opposites. Each has their dominion and place.” She paused. “Evil… is a different thing. A real thing, none the less. They are as different as sleep is from death, as dreaming is from waking. There are angels of both night and day, just as there is the noon day devil and the midnight devil.”

“Where does he stand?” I asked.

“Your father’s alliances lie outside of the natural order.” She whispered.

“Supernatural? What? Ghosts? Djins? Demons? Does he walk between worlds like Dante?”

“Not to confuse you still further, but I am a part of the natural order. The old magics are as well.”

“Wouldn’t angels and demons be, as well?”

“No. They stand outside, looking in. They are among us, but not like us. Hence why they are called ‘supernatural’. She rolled her eyes.”

“So, what about wizards?” I asked, just to get her point of view.

“They can choose,” she said, voice cold.

“Now I’m really confused,” I admitted.

The creature rolled her eyes. “This is not Autumn vs Winter, or Winter vs Summer. This is nature vs the unnatural. This is an invasion from without. This is the elders in revolt, claiming to be gods. This is a rebellion against the First Rule. The old treaties and hatreds are null in the face of this threat. I do what I must, because this is what winter is FOR. To cut off what grows past it’s season. Summer is to tend the good. Fall is harvest, feeding and death. Spring is growth. But each of these things grows monstrous if allowed to move past it’s place.”

“You use the term monstrous.” I said, incredulous.

“Yes. In a sense, you are more of a monster than I. Being outside of what you once were.”

Her voice was almost apologetic.

“So, what am I? What did you turn me into?” I asked.

She eyed me, lips pursed. “You.. Are finally asking the right questions.”

I tapped my foot.

“You know the knights of old? The important thing to understand about a knight is that he was once an ordinary man. They did not start out as nobility. But through the ancient rights, they are imbued with the power of royalty to execute noble decree. Generally to a purpose. The fools ruined the system by making it hereditary, when knighthood should be enforced by virtue of meritocracy. That was how it was intended.”

“But my Aunt…”

She laughed.

“That is magic of blood and soil. It gave her responsibility and privilege, but not abilities beyond the borders of the place she calls home. Her power came to be because her land gave her that power, once her place was recognized in the natural order. So she is a duchess in her dutchy, acknowledged elsewhere, but not empowered outside of it. I have imbued you with the power of a knight, which may act anywhere. Here— or in the breach of Arcadia itself.” She said.

“Then, why did you attack me?” I asked warily. “A single conversation would have simplified this greatly.”

“To see what you could do. You were frightfully unprepared, and I wanted you to be on your guard. We and the Summer court handle things…rather differently. Also, if I had come in peace… things would have been more complicated for me. It turns out… that the troubles I’d hoped to avoid… came to pass regardless.” She seemed to be having trouble speaking. I glanced at my gnomish companion, who only shrugged at me and flipped on his magic helmet. A certain animated opera started running through my head… Great. All I need is a magic spear and a singing bunny rabbit.

“So why did this thing try to kill me?” I asked.

I thumped my chest. A throbbing pain caused me to wince.

She squinted at me. “Did you allow it to complete it’s work?” she asked.

“They said I’d become than eternal living ice sculpture. That didn’t appeal to me. I like warm rooms and hot cocoa too much let that happen.”

She sighed.

“You need to get the wand back. Once it’s done it’s work you will understand,” she said.

“The wizard didn’t think it was a good idea,” I replied

“He wouldn’t. Wizards don’t like competition,” she growled.

I sensed there was something she wasn’t telling me. Yeah, I’m such a genius.

“So what else?” I asked.

“The labrynth. Even as you are, you can walk the Ice and Bone labyrinth. With the wand in hand. Then you will understand.”

I looked over and the gnome had actually lost his hat in incredulity. His eyes were wide and his face was flushed. “That’s madness! No breathing mortal can…”

“But she already has. It was a short trod betwixt the two lands of her blood, but that is more than even her sibs can do.”

“That is not the same thing!” he shouted.

“But they are woven from a similar weave, you must admit. Flesh tends to wither at the touch of a trod, unless it is bound in glamor first.”

“Well, there was that ornament. That might have had some sort of glamour.” I said weakly. I was starting to feel dizzy again.

The creature rolled her eyes. “Only a guardian spirit or a body of light could have protected you. You had neither. You had not just traversed the present, but I saw you in the past. But not when I was there, I remembered it a few minutes ago. That is a sign of the touch of a twist of the true labrynth. Which has four sections. The ice and bone labyrinth only covers half the year. You need to balance it with the wand of summer and fall.”

“They said that mixing winter and spring was…dangerous. The wizard accused you of supporting what you decry.” I said.

“IF it had been fall and winter, you would have simply aged and died. Spring was necessary to give you the life and youth to survive an infusion of winter. Did the wizard tell you that?” she asked hotly.

I blinked, and looked at the gnome again. He shrugged. “I was only an apprentice, and a young one at that.” He said, retrieving his hat. I noted with relief that there were others in the wings guarding us. The dark elf looked annoyed.

“You haven’t yet learned what you are up against. I will not willingly escape— or harm any of you. I cannot trust my own allies. But I must find those of my traditional opponents that I can trust,” she said softly. I had the impression that the others present did not hear her last sentence. Something about the words was…different. Like I heard them in my head, not with my ears. I looked at her. She smiled back.

“Why? Why did you do this? Why me?” I asked.

“That is a serious question. Because— your only loyalty is to your Aunt and her land. Should the crowned heads of Arcadia demand obedience, you can laugh at them and defend your lands— regardless of politics, regardless of blood. You are allied with the summer courts, but you are not vassals or slaves. I cannot do that. Neither can your gnomes. A wizard might, but they are seduced by great power— whatever the source.” She turned to the gnome, who was about to say something.

“ It is true humans are often seduced by power,” she turned back to me. “I judged you to be more likely to laugh at it, and see it for what it is.”

“The wizard actually said he thought your intentions were different than the results. He thought your partner in doing this betrayed you, and intended that both of us should die in the culmination of what that wand turned out to be,” I blurted, feeling like a moron. Hopefully, I didn’t give the whole game away to people who weren’t exactly our friends.

The dark elf looked disturbed. It was the first time I saw her look vulnerable. She pondered that for a moment, face hardening.

“If it were tampered with, it was not the original artist who crafted my wand. I know him better than I know myself— and he would not do this. But I do not know who could have done this. My wonder-worker has an idiosyncratic style that would be hard to…hack.” The last she spat like an alien word.

The gnome looked shrewd. “Does he have any half-baked relatives?” he asked.

Her eyes flew open. “I did not think…” she paused. Her face drained of it’s blue tinge and became even paler.

“But… she’s dead…” she gasped.

The gnome copped a pose and channeled me. “Well, if warping nature out of it’s natural shape is fair game, what’s wrong with a little cheating death among friends?” he said, a bit heavy on the sarcasm.


“If so, that means they are further along than I thought. You must get to the Labyrinth. Not the little trod you found, but Labyrinth of Years. You must walk it. You are the only one who can, without interference. It is the only way you will find the new Queen.”

I sighed. “NOW you tell me.”

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“There are three ways in which a statement, especially a disputable statement, can be placed before mankind.  The first is to assert it by avowed authority; this is done by deities, the priests of deities, oracles, minor poets, parents and guardians, and men who have “a message to their age”.  The second way is to prove it by reason; this was done by the mediaeval schoolmen, and by some of the early and comparatively forgotten men of science.  It is now quite abandoned.”

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