Returning from the van der Laan Pilgrimage

I am currently in the O'Hare airport in Chicago, about the begin the last leg of travel to return home. It has been a beautiful trip and very fruitful in ways I had hoped for and in ways unexpected.

Over the next few weeks I will have a number of posts containing descriptions of trip and the buildings visited and reflections on the topics raised at the Liturgy and Sacred Space conference attended.

Here are a few of the planned posts to give you an idea of what to expect. Some of them I have already sketched out, some are just ideas of topics to address in the future.

  1. What is the importance of the concept "locus iste" in Christianity? This question asked of google led someone to this site, and I was reflecting on it before the trip. During the conference and especially during the prayers for the Feast of the Dedication of Basilica of St John Lateran (which I was able to celebrate at the Abbey), my thoughts on this question were refined, so I will have a post on this very soon.
  2. The Antiphons, Readings, and Hymns for the Feast of the Dedication of a Church. This will be a companion to the above, an appendix really. These are beautiful and informative texts and better than anything I could write on the subject.
  3. Reflections in the Ordering of Life and Space in the Abbey at Vaals. I have begun the very difficult task of collecting my thoughts and responding to the experience of the abbey and will share them at length, along with my photos.
  4. On the New Baptismal Font at the Sistine Chapel. The artist behind this significant new work presented it in depth during the conference. It generated quite a bit of discussion, and more opposition that I would have expected, and is worth looking at in depth here.
  5. Is It Acceptable for a Church to be "Not For Everyone." This question was prompted by the discussion t the conference, especially as it relates to van der Laan specifically and particular cultural / intellectual expressions of architecture in general. This theme will be included in my reflections on the abbey, but deserves dedicated consideration as well.
  6. On the Proper Place of Invention in the Liturgy.
  7. On Sentimentality and Rationalism.
  8. On Obedience and Creative Genius.

And then there are the buildings. I have not yet decided how best to present those, but expect some Flickr sets soon at the very least.

Leaving for a van der Laan Pilgrimage

With just over 12 hours to go before departure to the Netherlands for a diocesan conference on Liturgy and Sacred Space and a pilgrimage around the country, preparations are nearly complete. The trip will begin with a Sunday morning stop in London (with mass/services at All Saints, Margaret Street; St Paul, Bow Common; and the Metropolitan Cathedral, Westminster). St Paul, Bow Common still has the Lutyens Outraged Christ, and my last visit did not permit participating in worship there, so this will be a real treat in and of itself.

As for the Netherlands, and my first trip, I had to narrow down a potential list of 150 buildings. These were churches only, and ignored everything north of Utrecht. In the end, I decided to focus on the early modern through reconstruction churches and the work of Dom Hans van der Laan, his family, teacher, and students. Another highlight will be three days at van der Laan's Abbey, especially praying the Offices with the monks there.

There will also be a side trip from the Abbey to a trio of Rudolph Schwarz churches and the Zumthor Bruder Klaus chapel.

So here is the list of 19 primary churches in the itinerary. There are a number of other nearby churches I may peek into, and I may not make it to all of them. We'll see how the driving goes, and the weather, and the daylight.

Sint Bavokerk Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Haarlem Joseph Cuypers and Jan Stuyt (1895-1930)

Sint Jozef / St Joseph, Leiden Leo and Jan van der Laan (1924-1925)

Sint Jozef / St Joseph, Wassenaar Jos van der Laan (1962)

Parochie De Goede Herder / Good Shepherd, Wassenaar L? van der Laan (1923)

O.L.Vrouw van Goede Raad / Our Lady of Good Counsel, Den Haag Jan van der Laan (1954)

Pastoor-van-Ars-Kerk / Curée of Ars, Den Haag Aldo van Eyck (1970)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help / O.L.Vrouw van Altijddurende Bijstand, Breda Grandpré Molière (1951-1953)

Betlehemkerk / Bethlehem Church, Breda ??? (1980)

St Paulusabdij / St Paul Abbey, Oosterhout Dom Bellot, Hans van der Laan (1907-)

Johannes Geboorte / Nativity of St John the Baptist, Nieuwkuijk Nico van der Laan (1955)

St Martinus / St Martin, Gennep Nico van der Laan (1954)

Zoete Naam Jezus / Sweet Name of Jesus, Oeffelt Nico van der Laan (1954)

Sint Josephkapel / St Joseph Chapel, Helmond Dom Hans van der Laan (1948; rebuilt 1995)

H. Kruisvinding / Holy Cross, Odiliapeel Jan de Jong (1959)

Abdij Sint Benedictusberg / St Benedictusberg Abbey Dominikus Böhm, Dom Hans van der Laan

Fronleichnamskirche / Corpus Christi Church, Aachen Schwarz (1930)

St Bonifatius / St Boniface, Aachen Schwarz (1961)

Annakirche / St Anna, Düren Schwarz (1956)

Bruder Klaus Feldkepelle Zumthor (2005-2007)

Depending on wireless availability, I may post some updates in transit. And stay tuned for a plethora of photos and analysis in the weeks after the trip. Many of these are not well documented (or at least documentation not easily accessible), so I will be making available as much material as possible.










Alphabet in Stone

While researching a potential trip to finally visit van der Laan and Schwarz churches, I discovered that the Dutch design firm Autobahn digitized Dom Hans van der Laan's typeface he created for the stone carvers at his abbey. Their site includes this video summarizing the work that also includes a nicely simple description of why van der Laan developed the plastic number.

This is all kinds of exciting.

Autobahn is a fascinating studio doing very good work. I first discovered them through their series of "fresh fonts" created by tracing Helvetica with ketchup (Tomatica), hair gel (Gelvetica), and toothpaste (Heldentica). Their work utilizes the digital and the real each to its fullness and in excellent harmony.

Which helps calm an an initial reaction wondering if is it wrong or out of character to digitize at all. The font is done as an instance of the face, which still exists primarily in the various instances in stone. We need to come to terms with the digital not as its own separate and self-serving entity, and this type of work is a perfect example of achieving this.