ART AND ARCHITECTURE
“Like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
— 1 Peter 2:5
The church building is a sign of the living Church, the Body of Christ, that worships within its walls. Through an experience of beauty, the church building leads a person to an encounter with God.
Construction on the parish church was begun in 1928 and the building was dedicated on August 28, 1929. Saint Benedict church has the traditional shape of a Roman basilica: the nave (central aisle) leading to the apse (semicircle). The nave intersects with the transept at the edge of the apse so that the shape of the building is cruciform. The transept represents the arms of Christ who, from the Cross, embraces all persons: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32).
The front of the church features a magnificent rose window with Christ at the center and the Twelve Apostles as the spokes radiating outward, signifying the mission of the Church: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Beneath the rose window is a statue of St. Benedict (c. 480–543 A.D.), flanked by two of his missionary disciples, St. Marus (512–584 A.D.) and St. Placidus (d. 541 A.D.). The motto of the Benedictine order appears below: ut omnibus glorificetur Deus, meaning, “that God may be glorified in all things” (1 Peter 4:11).
Significantly, the baptistery is located near the entrance of the church, since Baptism is the gateway to the living Church, which is the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
The word “nave” is derived from the Latin navis, meaning, “ship” (as in the English word “navy"). The nave refers to the body of the church, where the people are seated.
Along the nave, stained-glass windows feature prominent Benedictine saints.
There are four chapels in the church, which are dedicated to various saints and aspects of Christ: the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Scholastica, and Christ the King.
These half-windows (transoms) are located at the side entrances to the church and depict scenes associated with the Sacrament of Penance.
The sanctuary is located in the apse, at the top of the cross-shaped church building, and represents Christ as the Head of his Body that is the Church (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). The sanctuary includes a marble reredos (altarpiece), the altar, the ambo, a magnificent mural, and stained-glass windows of the seven sacraments.
The reredos, a term ultimately derived from the Latin dorsum, meaning "back," is an ornamental wall behind the altar. This reredos is a marble bas-relief of the Last Supper, which features the Twelve Apostles and has the tabernacle at its center.
The ambo, a term derived from the Greek ambon, meaning “step” or “elevation," is the place where the readings from the Bible are proclaimed.
AMBOTwo scenes from the Bible, one from the Old Testament and one from the New, adorn the ambo: Abraham providing hospitality to the angels, and the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The two panels highlight the unity of Scripture proclaimed in this space, for both the Old and New Testaments are read at Mass.
The mural in the sanctuary includes the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, St. Benedict, and the Latin (Western) doctors or teachers of the Church: St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, St. Jerome, and St. Ambrose.
"Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1210).
The parish observes the anniversary of the dedication of the church (a feast day) on the Sunday before or after August 28.
O God, who year by year renew for us the day
when your holy temple was consecrated,
hear the prayers of your people
and grant that in this place
for you there may always be pure worship
and for us, fullness of redemption.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
—Collect, On the Anniversary of the Dedication of a Church