Here is an introduction to another theme of liturgical architecture: the personal chapel, home shrine or ofrenda. Decidedly vernacular, adaptive (redemptive?) reuse, these small spaces provide insight into the organic development of devotional practice and therefore have some bearing on the development of communal architecture as well. Though most can certainly be written off as kitsch from the top-down high-culture standpoint, to do so is to amputate a living member. To paraphrase Dom Hans van der Laan, individual devotion based on the communal liturgy must be seen as a derivation. So too, the personal chapel is a derivation of the communal liturgical space. But as devotion has a way of organically integrating into tradition, practice and even doctrine, these small spaces of personal preference may inform our communal building practices. This is especially important since liturgical building and expression require far more guidance from below than does liturgical practice itself.

And so I am pleased to find this high quality video introduction to the personal chapel in the preserved chambers of Venerable (soon-to-be Blessed) John Henry Cardinal Newman.

The Cardinal's Personal Chapel from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.