Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

We visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, in the northern part of Mexico City, 18 days after Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day, which is December 12. The new basilica and the old basilica, and the large plaza they occupy, were all crowded the day we were there. This was the scene just in front of the new basilica.
I can only imagine what it would have been like on the 12th. Every paving stone in the plaza would probably have had someone standing on it, or kneeling. As it was people were milling around, though I did see a couple of pilgrims making their way along on their knees.

A wider view at the new basilica, at roughly the same afternoon moment.
The orange-shirted men appeared to be pilgrims on bicycles, arriving to pay their respects to Guadalupe just as we entered the grounds. I don’t know who they were, but I didn’t doubt their devotion.
According to one wag I read recently, Mexico is about 80 percent Catholic these days, but 120 percent Guadalupean. (I would have thought the Catholic percentage was higher, but it seems that religious apathy and Protestantism have gained ground in recent decades.)

The new basilica, as these things go, is quite new — finished in 1976. Turns out the old basilica, built on dodgy soils, was at some risk of collapsing. Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, Gabriel Chavez de la Mor, and José Luis Benllioure designed the structure. Modernist it may be, but the new one has its charms, especially inside.
I’ve read that anyone from any spot in the basilica can see Juan Diego’s cactus-fiber cloak with the image of the Virgin on it. I certainly was able to see it, though the glare was pretty strong. A mass was under way, so we didn’t get that close.

The old basilica was closed after the new one opened, and stayed closed until the building was stabilized in 2000. It’s a fine old colonial structure designed by one Pedro de Arrieta and finished in 1709.

Inside is the the altarpiece that used to hold the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Behind the old basilica is an even older shrine on Tepeyac Hill, where the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, but considering that we’d been climbing pyramids earlier in the day, no one wanted to climb the hill to see it.

One more thing, not visible in my pictures. Under the plaza is a sizable underground parking garage and an even bigger religious items gift shop, the largest of that kind of retail that I’ve ever seen. If you want to find just the right souvenir statue or painting or other image of the Virgin — and I was told the faces can vary considerably in their small details — that’s the place to spend some time looking. I just bought a few postcards.

Twelve Pictures ’17

Back to posting on January 2, 2018, or so. Like last year, I’m going to wind up the year with a leftover picture from each month. This time, for no special reason, no people, just places and things.

Champaign, Ill., January 2017Charlotte, NC, February 2017

Kankakee, Ill., March 2017

Rockford, Ill., April 2017

Muskogee, Okla., May 2017

Naperville, Ill., June 2017

Barrington Hills, Ill., July 2017

Vincennes, Ind., August 2017

Denver, September 2017Evanston, Ill., October 2017Chicago, November 2017

Birmingham, Ala., December 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral & The Holodomor Memorial

Last week I was near St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral (of the of the Kyiv Patriarchate in the USA and Canada) in Bloomingdale, Ill., so I stopped by for a look. It wasn’t part of Open House Chicago, but I’d read about the place a while back and realized it’s fairly close to where I live.

St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Being the middle of the week, the church itself was closed, as suburban churches often are. Still, a committee of holy men greets you above the door. At least, that’s what it looks like to me.
St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox CathedralIt reminded me a little of the artwork depicting Vladimir’s baptism of the Kievan Rus over the entrance of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago, which we saw a few years ago.

 Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic ChurchBut only a little. It doesn’t much look like any baptism is going on at St. Andrew, so I assume it depicts something else.

More than the church, I came to see the memorial to the victims of the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, which is on the church’s grounds, near its cemetery. The Holodomor, as it’s called, when Stalin starved untold millions of people to death.

Holodomor Memorial IllinoisHolodomor Memorial IllinoisThe plaque’s a little worn — it’s been out in the elements since the memorial was erected in 1993 — but it says, in English: In memory of over seven million victims of the great famine artificially created in Ukraine by the Moscow-Communist regime.

Holodomor Memorial Illinois

Much too somber a note on which to end, so I looked around for some comic relief about Stalin, and found this, attributed to Romanian writer Panait Istrati, who visited the Soviet Union in the late 1920s, just as Stalin had consolidated his dictatorship: “All right, I can see the broken eggs. Now where’s this omelette of yours?”

St. Edmund Catholic Church & Grace Episcopal Church, Oak Park

Unusually warm this week from Tuesday to yesterday. Still a lot of green leaves. Autumn, but not quite autumn. It’s also the time of the year for Halloween decorations, and to avoid any store or event that uses the terms boo-nanza or spook-tacular.

Two more places from last week’s Open House Chicago, both in west suburban Oak Park. One was St. Edmund, which the sign outside says is Oak Park’s oldest Catholic parish. The church building dates from 1910.

St. Edmund, Oak ParkHenry Schlacks, whose work I’ve run across before, design the church. The interior is resplendent.

St. Edmund, Oak ParkMuch of its splendor is the stained glass, created by a studio in Munich (presumably pre-WWI).

St. Edmund, Oak ParkSt. Edmund, Oak ParkAnd an interesting baptismal font that, when I was there, reflected one of the windows.

St. Edmund, Oak Park

A few blocks away, among the numerous churches on Lake St., is Grace Episcopal Church.
Grace Episcopal, Oak ParkFirst occupied in 1905 — and the building took a lot longer to complete according to its plans, namely another 70 years — Grace Episcopal also has a resplendent interior, in its more muted way.
Grace Episcopal, Oak ParkGrace Episcopal, Oak ParkA sign near the entrance reminds visitors that the church, designed by John Sutcliffe, figured in a scene in Home Alone. I wouldn’t have remembered that, since the last and only time I saw that movie was during a bus ride from Perth to Adelaide, or maybe it was Adelaide to Sydney, in early 1992. But I did see “Everything Wrong With Home Alone” not long ago, which was funnier than the movie itself.

We listened to the organist practice for a while at Grace. Very nice. It’s also good to see a church equipped with a gong.
Grace Episcopal, Oak ParkI understand that the gong used during the Winter Solstice Celebration at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York is quite the thing to hear. And see.

Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica

The only place we visited during Open House Chicago on Sunday that wasn’t in the northwest part of the city or in near suburban Oak Park was Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica on the West Side. Or more formally, the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, ChicagoIn our time, the neighborhood is blighted. Across the street from the basilica are more modest structures.
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, Chicago neighborhoodBut as mendicants, I expect the Servite Order that runs the basilica wouldn’t want to be in a posh neighborhood. The basilica itself, however, is jewel-box ornate.
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, ChicagoDesign credit is given to three gentlemen: Henry Englebert, John F. Pope, and William J. Brinkmann, with the structure going up from 1890 to 1902. I encountered a Brinkmann work earlier this year, out at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

No citation for it, but I have to mention his demise, as described by Wiki: “Brinkmann’s death was unexpected, gruesome and mysterious: his mangled, decapitated body was found on train tracks near 73rd street in February 1911… yet contradictory evidence prevented an inquest from finding a clear reason for his death or a finding of murder.
His funeral was held at St. Leo’s Church on 78th Street, a church he had himself designed in 1905. His death remains unsolved to this day.”

The AIA Guide to Chicago is succinct on the basilica: “It’s Bramante on the Boulevard — with a coffered, barrel-vaulted ceiling rising above the long nave. The stolid Classical facade is enlivened by an English Baroque steeple (its mate was destroyed by lightning).”

Looking straight up at that barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, ChicagoIt’s familiar from a short scene in the 1987 movie version of The Untouchables. In our time, that’s easy to confirm. Sean Connery and Kevin Costner are toward the back of the very long nave. I didn’t remember that scene, since I haven’t seen the movie since it was new, but I read about it. The Chicago way, eh? The Federal way — busting Capone for tax evasion — proved more effective.

The sanctuary.
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, ChicagoAnd more.

Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, ChicagoOur Lady of Sorrows Basilica, ChicagoOur Lady of the Sorrows Basilica Our Lady of the Sorrows BasilicaIt occurs to me that it’s been a good year for visiting basilicas. Our Lady of Sorrows makes the fifth so far. Hasn’t been a matter of planning, it’s just worked out that way.

Logan Square Walkabout

We’re no strangers to Logan Square, but there’s always more to a neighborhood. Aloft Circus Arts isn’t far from the square, but even closer is the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (Minnekirken). In fact, the church faces the square.

Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (Minnekirken) ChicagoThe church dates from 1912, when I suspect there were a lot more first-generation Norwegians in the area, and was designed by an architect by the fitting name of Charles F. Sorensen. As we entered, I wondered just how Norwegian the congregation is a century later.

Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (Minnekirken) Chicago

Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (Minnekirken) ChicagoMore than I’d have thought. According to the church’s web site, my emphasis: “Minnekirken serves as a reminder of a neighborhood heritage long past in which Scandinavians played a significant part. The church is a place where one can experience Norwegian culture in a very real way — whether it be the Christmas celebrations, the after-service coffee hour with traditional Norwegian delicacies, a codfish dinner, or when Minnekirken hosts performers either from Norway or with Norwegian ties. Minnekirken is the only remaining Norwegian language church in Chicago.

By golly, that’s interesting. Like finding out in Charleston that there’s still a French Huguenot church.

Also interesting, and something I didn’t realize at first: the above stained glass window looks like it depicts the Veil of Veronica. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a window with that as the subject.

On the southern end of Logan Square is Logan Square Auditorium, dating from 1915, in the Gilbert Building.

Logan Square AuditoriumThe first floor has retail and the second floor small offices, for doctors and the like. The upper floor has a large ballroom, though with enough chairs I suppose it could be an auditorium. Not especially picturesque, but it would be a good place for an event with a lot of people.

The volunteer in the ballroom showed us a print of a photo of just such a large event, taken in September 1927. A luncheon from the looks of it, with the crowd looking very much like you’d expect, down to the round eyeglasses and Bendel bonnets. Most of the men had taken off their suit coats, so I’d guess the room was warm in those pre-air conditioned days.

According to the caption, the guest of honor that day was Illinois Gov. Len Small, then in his second of two terms. Generally forgotten now, but true to the tradition of Illinois electing crooks to that office.

Not far to the south of Logan Square Auditorium is Armitage Baptist Church. The leaves in this picture cover its ugly, and unfortunately placed marquee.

Armitage Baptist Church, ChicagoDeveloped in 1921 as the Logan Square Masonic Temple, in later years the Masons bugged out and the building was by turns an event venue and a school. Now Baptists meet an auditorium-style sanctuary that’s very spare, except for mostly Latin American flags. And conga drums.
Armitage Baptist ChurchOn one of the upper floors is a gym in need of some restoration, though it looks like you could still shoot some hoops. The church is working on the building, when funds are available.
Armitage Baptist Church basketball courtFew gyms in my experience have Bible verses on the walls, but I don’t visit many parochial schools.

Before leaving Logan Square, we got a quick look at the Illinois Centennial Monument rising over the square.
Illinois Centennial MonumentI took a closer look at its base some years ago. Next year is Illinois’ bicentennial. I still don’t think we’re going to get another memorial.

Three East Town Milwaukee Churches

East Town is part of Milwaukee’s urban core, characterized by upmaket apartments and condos, smaller office buildings — the larger commercial properties are just to the south — and large churches. The district, also known as Juneautown, or the Juneau-Cass Historic District, or Yankee Hill, is east of the Milwaukee River (various sources give it various names).

Two large churches are on Juneau Ave. One is Summerfield United Methodist Church.
Summerfield United Methodist ChurchA handsome sandstone and limestone Gothic church, it dates from 1904, when it was occupied by the First Community Church. Later that church and Summerfield Methodist merged. Summerfield, as a congregation, goes back to the 1850s, when they were abolitionist to the core.

Coming from a Catholic basilica, the church seemed like an exercise in Protestant restraint.
Summerfield United Methodist ChurchBut it isn’t completely unornamented.
Summerfield United Methodist ChurchWith one of the more interesting church ceilings I’ve seen lately.
Summerfield United Methodist ChurchWhile reading about Summerfield, I discovered that its immediate post-Civil War pastor was Samuel Fallows. I’d met him before, in a way. I saw his grave at Waldheim Cemetery more than a decade ago.

Less than a block away from Summerfield is All Saints’ Cathedral, or more formally, the Cathedral Church of All Saints, seat of the Episcopalian Bishop of Milwaukee.

Cathedral Church of All SaintsEdward Townsend Mix, a busy 19th-century Milwaukee architect, designed the building for Olivet Congregational Church in 1868, but it wasn’t long (1871) before the Episcopal diocese bought it, consecrating the structure as a cathedral in 1898.

All Saints' Cathedral, MilwaukeeAll Saints' Cathedral, MilwaukeeI’ve read that the congregation there is Anglo-Catholic, and we found the interior traditionalist in one way at least: no air conditioning. That made the place warm on the day we were there. But that wasn’t so bad. We sat and listened to part of an organ concert at the cathedral, an all-J.S. Bach program by Canon Joseph A. Kucharski, cathedral precentor.

Interesting note from the handout that the cathedral gave us: “1825: The first Episcopal priest was brought to the Wisconsin Territory at the request of the Stockbridge (NY) Oneida (a.k.a. the Mohican tribe of the Algonquin nation), who moved first to the lands along the Fox River in 1818, then to the east shore of Lake Winnebago. To this day, the Cathedral Church of All Saints has active Oneida members.”

On N. Waverly Pl., near the other churches, is Immanuel Presbyterian Church.
Immanuel Presbyterian ChurchThe church asserts that it was the first congregation in Milwaukee, organized in 1837. The building dates from 1875, except that it burned down in 1887 and was rebuilt by 1889. Various other changes followed in the 20th century. Edward Townsend Mix again.

Spare indeed, but elegant.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, MilwaukeeWith many fine stained glass windows.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, MilwaukeeImmanuel Presbyterian Church, MilwaukeeThere was one more church nearby open for Milwaukee Doors Open, but we wanted lunch, and besides, five is probably enough for any one day. Aesthetic overload begins to set in: Gee, look, another beautiful church, with magnificent stained glass. Wow. You know, I’d really like a hamburger.

Return to the Basilica of St. Josaphat

The last time we visited the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, the sky was slate gray and drizzly. This time, an unusually hot September sun in perfectly blue skies bore down on the church. The basilica looked as imposing as ever.
Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee

Back in 2011, I related the story of how the church was built of recycled bricks from a massive Chicago post office, and a bit about the saint, so I won’t repeat myself. The visit this time was mainly about getting a longer look at the opulent interior, patterned after St. Peter’s in Rome, only smaller.

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee

The splendid dome.
Basilica of St. Josaphat, MilwaukeeAnd more.

Basilica of St. Josephat, MilwaukeeBasilica of St. Josephat, MilwaukeeBasilica of St. Josephat, MilwaukeeThe rose window.

Basilica of St. Josephat, MilwaukeeOther fine windows.

Basilica of St. Josephat, MilwaukeeDownstairs is the relic room. A big stash of them in many reliquaries. The room looks open, but I put my camera between iron bars to capture the image.
Relics of the Basilica of St. Josephat, MilwaukeeThere’s one from St. Josaphat, which seems appropriate, as well as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Nicholas of Myra, St. Sebastian, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Pius X, and St. John Paul II, among others.

There’s also a Relic of the True Cross, according to one of the signs. More easily obtainable than I would have thought. Well, you know what Calvin, who of course had his own agenda, said about that.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church & Stalin’s Tattooed Granddaughter

I had a short talk with one of the volunteers at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in near-suburban Milwaukee during the Open Doors event. That was the first place we visited. She was roughly my age, and knowledgeable about her church. I asked her about the church’s pews. That’s not something you usually see in the Orthodox tradition.

The pews arrayed in a semicircle, with all of them facing the sanctuary. Each pew is lined with sky blue cushions — with gold carpet underneath — and a fish is carved into the end. Interesting detail, I thought.

Yes, she said, pews are unusual for an Orthodox church. In all the others she’d seen, including in the United States and Europe, the congregation stands. Are pews normal in other churches? she asked me. Catholic and Protestant ones?

I answered yes, even as the implications of the question sunk in. Someone so informed about her church, and with plenty of years behind her, had never visited any other kind of church? That couldn’t be. Not even for a look? Not even in the great cities of Europe, where you can wear yourself out visiting churches of renown?

That’s just about inconceivable to me, who will enter a church or any other religious site that’s open, without hesitation. Especially unusual places such as Annunciation.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, WisconsinGenius or otherwise, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work is almost always worth a look. Interesting how he incorporated Byzantine elements such as the dome, and crosses in circles, into something that doesn’t look like other churches, Eastern or not. And doesn’t the church have that Space Age look as well? Like the Jetsons might have attended there.

This is facing the iconostasis. The pews are partly visible.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox ChurchRachel Minske writes in Wauwatosa Now: “The altar area, once carpeted, is now marbled. Egg tempera two-dimensional depictions of church icons surround it. The church choir normally sits high above the altar, on the second floor, and its members view the service using a video monitor as they are somewhat hidden from view, [Father John] Ketchum said.

“Stained glass windows are found throughout the church, which also were additions after the building was completed, Ketchum said. Glass bulbs line the church’s perimeter, up high near the dome. There are more than 200 bulb-shaped windows, each letting in a significant amount of natural light.

“…The original ceiling was tiled, but that was replaced with paint after changing temperatures inside the church caused the tiles to fall off the ceiling.

“To access the church’s bottom floor, there are three spiral staircases that wind downstairs. Each has a whimsical design and is lined with gold carpet.”

On the upper level, I got a few decent images of the stained glass.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church And a look at this sign.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox ChurchCurious that the church would draw attention to Stalin’s granddaughter’s baptism there. More current information about Ogla, now Chrese Evans, is all too easy to look up. I’ll take the NY Post as authoritative in this case.

Milwaukee Doors Open ’17

Temps have cooled down some, but it’s still warmer than usual for this time of year. At about 12:30 this afternoon, I saw an ice cream truck drive down our street. I can’t ever remember seeing one in October.

Last weekend, Yuriko and I drove up to Milwaukee to participate in Milwaukee Doors Open. Ann couldn’t make it, even if she’d wanted to, because she was attending her first high school speech tournament.

That’s a good thing. Her joining speech inspired me, while in Texas recently, to open up one of my high school yearbooks, the 1979 edition, to the page devoted to the National Forensic League. I was a member.
NFL AHHS 1979I discovered when Ann signed up for debate that it isn’t the NFL any more, but the National Speech & Debate Association, only since 2014. What kind of name is that? Hopelessly bland. It’s as distinctive as the name of a suburban office park in a mid-sized market.

Note in the picture above: the club’s officers (I was one of those, too) had fun with belonging to the NFL. We lined up like football players for the picture.

Doors Open Milwaukee 2017First we went to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, which is in the near suburb of Wauwatosa. It’s best known for being one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last works, and in fact was completed after he died. As I read, and as I saw, this 1950s church is informed by traditional Byzantine forms. But I also couldn’t help thinking of space age forms.

From there, we went into the city and revisited the Basilica of Saint Josaphat. Last time we were there was Good Friday 2011, and as you’d guess, the church was fairly busy that day. This time, it was open just for a look, so we were able to do that at some length.

East Town, the part of downtown Milwaukee east of the Milwaukee River, was next. A number of churches along or near Juneau St. were open, so they became the focus. Doors Open features a lot more than churches, but with so many clustered together, I figured that would be a good theme for this year.

They included All Saints’ Cathedral (Episcopal), Summerfield United Methodist Church and Immanuel Presbyterian Church. All were worth seeing.

At one of them, a U.S. flag and another flag graced the entrance. The other one, which I’d never seen before, intrigued me. Y held it so I could take a picture, since the wind wasn’t up.
The People's Flag of MilwaukeeI asked the volunteer inside the door about it, and she told me it was the new flag of Milwaukee. I took that to mean officially, but that’s not so. There’s a movement to make it the official flag, to replace this embarrassment, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Currently it’s the People’s Flag of Milwaukee. Sounds like the banner under which the proletariat would storm City Hall, but I don’t think the organizers of online poll to pick a new design had that in mind. I’ll go along with it, though I don’t live in Milwaukee. It’s a good design. Vexillologists hate the current flag, and I agree with them.

Speaking of Milwaukee City Hall, that was the last place we went for Doors Open Milwaukee after a late lunch at the downtown George Webb, the local diner chain with two clocks. I interviewed the mayor of Milwaukee in his office at City Hall in 2003, but I really didn’t get to look around. It’s a splendid public building, dating from the Progressive Era.