Thursday, September 25, 2014

DOORS OPEN MILWAUKEE 2014: ST. BENEDICT THE MOOR PARISH CHURCH

I visited four different churches during this year's Doors Open Milwaukee event, and I found St. Benedict the Moor Parish Church to be the most interesting.  I will have to say that I didn't visit some of the more notable religious venues, such as St. John's Cathedral, St. Josephat's Basilica, or St. Joseph Chapel, which have some stunning architecture, but I did like the charm of this little, and in some ways, humble church.

The church was built in 1924 by the Capuchin order as a parish church for African-American Catholics.  Ninety years ago, African-Americans had trouble finding parishes that would accept their membership.  This was true not just for Catholic parishes but for Protestant ones as well, and this church was specifically established as a house of worship for African-Americans.  Times have changed, of course, and now the church has a very diverse membership, with many members coming from affluent suburbs.  Even so, it still has a major missionary commitment and conducts outreach programs for the homeless as well as for those in the Milwaukee County Jail, which is just down the street from the church.

The church is modest in size and in ornamentation.  Here is a standard shot of the front of the church that I took from the choir loft at the rear of the church.


The bas-relief mural in the sanctuary is interesting.  I was informed that it commemorates a massacre that occurred in Africa in the 19th century.  Here is a detail shot of that mural.


Architecturally, the most interesting features were the stained glass windows.  Following is a shot of one set that includes an interesting depiction of Christ's hands.


I wanted to include portions of the ancillary circular stained glass elements as well.  I felt that the viewer could get a good sense of the overall array even though only portions of each section are included in the image.

I also spotted the following combination of semicircular stained glass that I though created an interesting composition.


And I thought it worked even better as a black & white.


John

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