The Beauty Of Catholic Architecture

World-wide the universal church adheres to some basic principles for the planning and completion of its architecture. Chief among them is the tenant that Catholic architecture must be beautiful. From the modern Catholic architecture Washington DC displays to the traditional beauty found in the Vatican, the churches establish a human vision of the sacred.

Catholics believe that during mass the sacred meets the mundane as heaven bends to meet the earth. The space where this holy meeting takes place is at the heart of the Catholic church. Catholic architecture is planned so that the altar is at the center of the church, and is, therefore, central during the mass.

Walking into a Catholic church, your vision is meant to be filled with a sense of the heavenly city, the world as it should be, and the realm of the divine. Sacred architecture should have height to draw your attention upward towards the heavens. Additionally, it should also have iconography for devotional worship and a clear sanctuary for prayer.

However, despite the commonalities of all Catholic churches, there are many distinct styles and types of Catholic architecture that meet these demands in varying ways. Each church is an opportunity to create a unique place to worship, commune with the divine, and experience the holy spirit.

As the oldest Christian church, the Catholic church has created beautiful sacred spaces throughout its existence in nearly every corner of the world. Because the church has been around for thousands of years and boasts nearly 3,000 dioceses, there have been a huge number of styles created for the oldest living Christian church.

Styles of Catholic churches found world-wide include:

  • Early Christian
  • Byzantine
  • Romanesque
  • Gothic
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque
  • Rococo
  • Revival Styles
  • Modern
  • Post Modern

Today’s modern churches are often pale in comparison to the cathedrals of old. However, many of the modern churches were constructed much more quickly to easily fill the needs of growing Catholic populations the world over. In these churches, constructed with modern building techniques, form often follows function. Whereas, in the great cathedrals of Europe, the form was rather intrinsically connected to the function of the church. In fact, the two were inseparable as the church functioned to bring to earth a sense of the divine. Today still, some would argue that this functionality should remain central when constructing Catholic architecture.