Good ST. Thomas Church Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Church, Religion, Christians, Art, Jesus Christ, Building, Thomas More, Utopia

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/30

First-name Last-name

In the 1950’s the Catholic Church, Archdiocese of New York, wanted to build a new parish on the North East side of Manhattan. They successfully negotiated the property acquisition on the 89th Street that The Reformed Church of Harlem owned. Bishop Joseph Donahue consecrated the new parish and rededicated it to be the Church of St. Thomas More. The church then underwent multiple renovations to make it appear more Catholic. A depiction of a cross and symbols of the blessed mother Mary, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit decorated the glasses. These depictions surround the images of Saints Paul and Peter along with two angels. They replaced the old stained glass windowpanes with court of arms that belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church (Church of St. Thomas Moore 2015, part 3).
A sacristy connects the church to the rectory. There is a marble rail installed at the edge of the channel that is used for communion. On the left and right sides of the chancel, the architects installed the shrines of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother. There are angel-topped riddle posts, and wooden reredos replaced the table flowers that were a style of decoration. There are curved bands placed on top of the reredos that have a web of grapevines, fish, and bursting grains. These symbols represent Christ and Eucharist. The renovations run from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s. Two reconciliation rooms were added in the chapel during these renovations (Church of St. Thomas Moore 2015, part 3).
Later in the 1990’s an oak plaque was installed to honor the previous reformed congregation. There is a new tabernacle table that was handcrafted by Hugh Harrison that tries to combine the new and old artistic impressions. The legs of the oak table have been decorated using a blue polychrome, and it has carving that intimately relate to themes of the Christian faith such as the Eucharist and Noah’s ark. The carvings also have depictions of a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit, a fish that Christ used in feeding people and a Tudor rose that is affiliated to Thomas More. This table was placed on a simple foot piece that has been decorated with tiles that form abstract designs of flowers that reflect the design that is found in Pugin’s Floriated Ornament.
Other changes that were done during that period included the removal of the communion rail to ease the congestion of people during wedding and funeral ceremonies. Four predieu that were handcrafted by Hugh Harrison replaced the communion rail. There are pipes and organ cases that were built by Lively Fulcher that have been installed to the west of the wall of the chancel on top of the new oak wainscoting. Two towers have been placed between the cases. The arms of the Archdiocese of New York are located on the left side of the case, and the arms of St. Thomas More are on the right side (Church of St. Thomas Moore 2015, part 3).
When you look at the way the building has been designed, it creates a spiritual atmosphere. This atmosphere engulfs you right from the moment you walk through the steps of the church, and you breathe in the cool air conditioner. The striking features expressed by the different carvings and architectural features display a sense of beauty, strength, and functionality of the Christian faith. In this setting, the body of Christ comes together in a profound and meaningful way for an ecclesial prayer. The crucifix that has been placed in front of the church and inscribed in the windows symbolizes two different things. The first symbolism is that the head of the body is the sanctuary for our souls, and the body is the representation of the nave, and the arms symbolize the transept. In the second symbolic concept, the crucifix is an image of humanity. The peak of creation is complete with the image of Christ on the cross as he awaits the resurrection (Roccasavlo 2008).
The church has incorporated modern forms of art through the use of abstract art. It is an attempt to merge the classical spirituality to the current modernity. It can be clearly depicted by the use of space which is a significant factor in modern art. St. Thomas More has a lot of space that is used to create an emotional ambiance in the worshipers. The church turned a bare building into a sanctuary that expresses the incarnation in the mystery of God in the form of flesh and blood and expresses this throughout the building (Roccasavlo 2008).
The church has used hanging lights, mosaic, stained glass, and pictorial decorations to create a spiritual atmosphere for the celebration of the Holy Mass. The church has gone further to make use of heavenly and eschatological aspects of the liturgy such saints’ and angels. The different artworks found inside the church symbolize the presence of Christ in their unique way. These works by the artists are always appealing to the spiritual aspect of a person. It helps the Christians in the church to unite with the divine setting so as to create a feeling of heaven here on earth. The depiction of the grapevine fruits symbolizes the fruitfulness of the faithful and their spiritual growth each time they come to the altar. They develop some form of unity with God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit at the sacred altar where they realize their vocations in Christ (Vicenzino, 2015).
Some of the reforms that the church underwent were the removal of decorative art. The decorations were replaced by abstract art that made use of new shapes and materials; and were based on extreme minimalism. The devotional objects had been removed so as to keep liturgy as the primary focus of the congregants during the mass. It was done to ensure that nothing that was foreign to their faith is brought into the holy place of worship. The use of abstract art eliminates the probability of contemporary issues to rise from the decorations, and artistic impression brought into the church (Bayne 2003).
The church of St. Thomas More uses its architecture to depict its sense of a theological building. The rubrics, gallery and artwork used invoke the feeling of worship and conspicuously communicate the liturgy of the Catholic faith. The church has used an ancient architectural design to reveal the divine nature of the Mass they celebrate. It indicates it is firmly based on the Catholic traditions. The church insists the need to understand the liturgy goes beyond the architecture of the buildings and the art used. They say that the beauty of the building has no meaning if the ontological reality does not correspond to its external expressions (Bayne 2003).


Bayne, W. "Liturgical Arts History." January 1, 2003. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Church of St. Thomas Moore. "History of Our Church." Church of St. Thomas Moore. January 1, 2015. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Roccasavlo, Joan. "Library : The God of the Senses and Church Architecture." - Catholic Culture. September 1, 2008. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Vicenzino, Riccardo. "Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy." History of Our Church. January 1, 2015. Accessed March 24, 2015.

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