Friday, March 18, 2011

Favorite Pictures

Churches are easy to photograph.  The tend to stand pretty still until you get the shot.  Grand buildings with towering steeples situated on well groomed grounds make for good photos.  I have been lucky enough to see some amazing places from Maine to Texas.  I have found that the best pictures often come from unexpected little corners of the church.  A stained glass window tucked away behind the stairs to the choir loft.  A tiny statue partially hidden in the garden of the rectory.  A message carved into stone or brick generations ago.  Here is a sample of some of my favorite photos from around America.  They are not necessarily the most frame worthy photos, but I just like them.  Hopefully you will too.
The hills behind Churchtown (seriously I am not making that up) in Eastern Ohio.

Sometimes the sky cooperates - St. Sebastian in Mercer County the land of the cross tipped churches

The Shrine Park in Carey, Ohio

Hiding on a pillar in Holy Family - Columbus, Ohio
Tucked into the fold of a statue - Shrine of the Holy Relics - Maria Stein, Ohio
If you have never been to Mercer County - GO - just get in the car and go - two dozen amazing German churches - there are churches in the front yard of other churches - the Shrine itself is worth the drive - go spend a day - skip Cedar Point, skip Wyandot Lake and go see Mercer County

This was on a gravestone behind St. John The Baptist in Maria Stein (across the street from the shrine) - the date and name had worn off and a moss covered cross remained.

Another amazing statue in the Shrine Park in Carey, Ohio - another great day trip - seriously go visit these places - the people are great and they want to see you

The Cathedral Of The Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York - I have seen many snakes before, but there is something strange about the eyes on this one.  I love taking pictures of parts of a statue

Sometimes looking from a different angle adds to a photo.  St. Michael guarding the door of St. Michael Church in Old Town Chicago

I love stained glass and often the individual characters tell more of a story than the entire scene.  This is from St. Anthony of Padua in St. Louis, Missouri

Of the nearly 25,000 photos that I have taken, Mary is my favorite subject.

St. Colman of Cloyne in Washington Courthouse, Ohio - Stained glass shows it's age - I like it when at least some of the windows are left unrestored

St. Charles Seminary in Carthegena - Again in Mercer County

National Shrine Of Our Lady Of Providence - St. Mary Of The Woods in Indiana

Back to the Shrine in Maria Stein

Taken through a fence in Mt. Vernon, Ohio

And my all time favorite photo, one that is framed and hanging on my wall, is from St. William in Cincinnati.  Sometimes you just get lucky and nature wants to be in your photo.  If you are really lucky a beautiful male cardinal perches on the praying hands of Mary and looks right at your camera.

I like that picture - I hope you do too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Top Ten

I thought that it might be interesting to do a top ten list of some of the most impressive churches that I have been to.  I am not including the ones from the trip that I just took, but the ones from previous outings.  These are not the biggest or the most historically important, but just my own personal top ten most impressive.  I will start with number 10:

I grew up near Carey so I have a personal attachment here.  Just an hour or so NW of Columbus - go visit - it is worth the trip.

This Church survived the great Chicago fire - a must see when in Chicago, but not the best of the Windy City

Reported to have the largest stained glass windows in America

The whole setting of old Savannah adds a lot to the feel of this Cathedral that sits at the edge of a Spanish moss covered square with horse drawn tours plodding by

On a small college campus near Terre Haute, Indiana

A Polish church that I stumbled upon in Chicago- the outside is impressive, but the inside is amazing.  Do not go to Chicago without stopping here.

Another Cathedral aided by setting - in the center of the French Quarter with Andrew Jackson guarding the front door.  Plus it kinda looks like a Disney castle.

HUGE - sits on the campus of Catholic University - the largest church in the western hemisphere - countless shrines and chapels throughout the Basilica - still under constant expansion

My favorite church in America - the interior is stunning - you have no choice but to stand in awe and try to take it all in.  I have been lucky enough to see a few cathedrals of Europe and they have nothing on this Basilica.  Well worth a trip to Buffalo.
These buildings would get my vote for the ten most impressive churches that I have seen.  Of course if I had to truly choose my all time favorite it would be the church where I grew up.  It was built by my German ancestors and was ufortunately closed a few years back.

I am enjoying sharing some of my pictures.  What else should I post?  Favorite Mary statues?  Best windows?  Ugliest churches? (That might upset some people)  We will see.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Made it home late Friday night.  I spent most of Saturday organizing the photos into folders on my computer.  I did take a break to watch the Buckeyes roll the skunkbears from Michigan.  I thought that it might be interesting to give some totals from my church project.  I started taking pictures of Ohio churches in late 2008.  I have since completed the Columbus Diocese and am close to completing the Toledo and Cincinnati diocese too.  I have taken pictures of churches in 26 states, including 66 different dioceses.  Included are 68 Cathedrals, 24 Basilicas, and 15 Shrines.  The total number of churches now sits at 610.  I have taken 23,614 pictures among them are 1516 pictures of Mary, 837 Statues of Saints, 353 Angels, and 150 Pietas.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my trip.  I certainly enjoyed writing about it.  Hopefully I can hit the road again soon - I am thinking up through Minnesota or maybe down through Florida.  I encourage anyone who is out traveling to stop and see a church.  Ask someone there about the church.  You will get a glimpse into another place.  People love their churches and they are anxious to tell you their stories.  There is no better way to see America than to follow the steeples from town to town.

Day Eight and Nine

Large distances between Little Rock and St. Louis so I was only able to make it to two churches on day eight.
Cathedral Of St. Andrew - Little Rock

Co-Cathedral Of St. Mary Of The Annunciation - Cape Girardeau, Missouri
I left southeast Missouri and went up near St. Louis to sleep.  St. Louis has a very rich Catholic history from both the French and the Germans so I was excited to see several churches.
Day Nine: I parked downtown and walked to several churches.  First off was the Basilica Of St. Louis King Of France.  It sits almost under the arch and it would be difficult to take a bad photo with that setting.

Then over to the Church Of St. John The Apostle And Evangelist - a former Cathedral.  I talked a maintenace man into letting me in even though it was closed.

Then I walked over to the Shrine Of St. Joseph.  It was also closed, but a volunteer who happened to be at the rectory not only let me in he gave me a tour that included the museum in the rectory.  He was a Korean War vet who was very excited about his church and his city.  St. Joseph is no longer a parish - just a shrine, but he told me that most of the weddings in the area happen there and I can see why.  The church was amazing with an amazing story.  Built in 1844 for a thriving German population the church later suffered as the people left the area.  It simply fell apart and was scheduled to be closed in the early 1980s.  In 1981 three teenage boys broke into the rectory to steal stuff and murdered the priest while he slept.  The community rallied around the slain priest and poured money into St. Joseph.  A new roof and countless hours of work later it is now one of the most beautiful churches that I have ever been to.  My little camera does not do it justice.

From there I went over to the main Cathedral of St. Louis - known as the Cathedral Basilica Of St. Louis.  It is large and impressive.  Again I met a nice old man who wanted to give me a tour.  People of St. Louis are very proud of there city.  He lead me all over the Cathedral and insisted on taking some pictures with what he called my "fancy new camera." 

I then stopped at a couple of parish churches.  First I went to St. Ambrose - (my confirmation name)

Then to St. Anthony of Padua where yet another proud church goer insisted on a guided tour

I reluctantly left St. Louis to head home to Columbus, but I stopped across the river in Belleville, Illinois for one last Cathedral first.

From there I jumped on route 70 and drove east.  It is really boring being on the same highway for four states.  Nine days, 4155 miles, 10 states, 1970 pictures, 40 churches (25 Cathedrals, 5 Basilicas, 5 Parish Churches, 4 Mission Churches, and 1 Shrine).  As I get all of the information into my computer I will post some totals for my church project.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 6 and 7

Busy, busy, busy - finally get a chance to sit down and write.  I spent the morning of day 6 in San Antonio.  They have some incredible mission churches there that date to the early 1700s.  All four are located in a line in the southern half of the city.  They are managed by the National Parks, but are also still function parishes.  They do a great job of explaining the role of missions to early settlers.  I encourage anyone traveling through the area to check them out - maybe instead of the Alamo - it was boring.  I even talked the park ranger in to letting me take pictures inside one of the missions even though it was not open.
San Francisco de la Espada

San Juan Capistrano

San Juan y San Miguel

Mission Concepcion
I noticed a church on my way to the cathedral so I stopped and took photos

St. Gerard
Then to the Cathedral in downtown San Antonio

San Fernando Cathedral
San Antonio also has an impressive Basilica.
Basilica Of The National Shrine Of The Little Flower
I took the advice of my loyal blog followers and wandered out to the little town of Freericksburg, Texas in search of a "painted church".  Fredericksburg is an odd little town out in the hill country of central Texas.  They have the Museum of the Pacific there - I looked around, but never did find the Pacific in central Texas.  Someone told me that Admiral Nimitz was from the area, thus the museum - of course they may have just been messing with a tourist.  The church was very impressive for a small town.  It reminded me of the churches in Mercer county or in southern Indiana.  Those Germans make nice churches.
St. Mary
Then up to Austin to the Cathedral
I spent the night in Austin with some friends and took in some of the downtown scene.  Live music everywhere, good food, and swarms of people.  Mardi Gras tends to bring some odd folks out into the streets.  Good times - I recommend Austin

Day 7 - Up to Fort Worth and the land of horrible traffic and the very worst type of people - Cowboy Fans.  The sacrifices that I make to get the pictures.
St. Patrick Cathedral
Dallas Cathedral was closed which is ok because there was no parking anywhere.  So on over to Tyler, Texas.
Cathedral Of The Immaculate Conception
Then back over to Louisiana to cover the northern part of the state - Shreveport, Natchitoches, and Alexandria
Cathedral Of St. John Berchmans
Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception
Cathedral Of St. Francis Xavier
I am now somewhere in northern Louisiana - to be honest I am really not sure - somewhere in the woods - kinda like the woods that you always see in horror films.  I am off to Little Rock tomorrow - hopefully.  I am now at 3079 miles, 6 states, assorted animals (saw a dead armadillo today), 31 churches of various types.  I am also going on about 5 hours of sleep per night so I am going to bed.