September 23, 2013
benedictus qui venit in nomine domini
The culture of the Roman Church permeates my psyche. And until I was 26, I lived in communities – my family, the Christian Brothers, the extended family in Toronto – that followed the rhythms of Catholicism. Today, I have nothing to do with Holy Mother Church, but its tendrils are deep in me.
I shoot churches all over Italy. I love going into the country chapels, monasteries, cloisters and shooting the statues, the ceilings, the crucifixes, the tabernacles, the frescoes, the votives. These items have intrinsic meaning, they are recognizable, they are hard-wired into my synapses. And the Latin has this liquid flow that blots the need for translation.
BTW, I never go anywhere near the churches if there are people and priests in them. But the empty sanctuaries are private museums, shelters from the summer heat, time capsules of a by-gone era – a time when the Church ruled, a time of visual learning and fiery oratory, the time of Botticelli and Savonarola.
I wanted to shoot the reflecting pool and entrance into Point State Park in morning light. The above image is the light fixture, pool and ceiling. An earlier shot of this location had me referring to it as the Holy of Holies. To me, the environment looks like a tabernacle, a place of worship and therefore the titles. In the Catholic Mass, the Sanctus ends the first half of the Liturgy – the Preface. Also, part of the Sanctus is adapted from the book of Isaiah and the prophet’s vision of the throne of God surrounded by ministering seraphims – Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Catholicism aside, I love the geometry of the image, its lines of symmetry, its mushroom cloud.