Chapel of The Holy Cross: A Church With an Idiosyncratic Structure
Chapel of The Holy Cross
Location: Sedona, Arizona, United States
Architect: Marguerite Brunswig Staude
Situated in Sedona, Arizona, The Chapel of the Holy Cross is actually a Roman Catholic chapel. It is quite popular because of its incredible architecture. Let’s know more about this historic building.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is an epitome of wonderful religious architecture. Its foundation is located on a red symbolic rock. The breathtaking views of the surrounding environment create a decorous and spiritual experience in the church.
The chapel is under the episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. Its ministry is conducted by St. John Vianney Parish, Sedona. It has a long history; let’s learn more about this remarkable church.
Initially, the work of this church was commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staud. He drew inspiration from the newly constructed Empire State Building in 1932. Together with Lloyd Wright, the son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, he attempted to build a church in Budapest, Hungary. But it was abandoned due to the outbreak of World War II. Therefore, she decided to build a church in his native area.
Here, in Arizona, Richard Hein was chosen as project architect, and the design is by architect August K. Strotz and both are from the firm of Anshen & Allen. The chapel is built on Coconino National Forest land, and the supervisor of the whole site was Fred Courkos. You’ll be surprised to know that he built the chapel in just 18 months at the cost of US$300,000! Finally, the construction was completed in 1956.
The sculptor describes the chapel, “Though Catholic in faith, as a work of art, the Chapel has a universal appeal. Its doors will ever be open to one and all, regardless of creed, that God may come to life in the souls of all men and be a living reality.”
In 1957, The American Institute of Architects presented this chapel with an award of honor. In 2007, the people of Arizona voted the chapel to become one of Arizona’s Seven Man-Made Wonders.
Do you know that the entire land on which this church was built is registered as the Coconino National Forest land? In addition, it requires a special-use permit. Later, it was obtained with the help of Senator Barry Goldwater. Now, the chapel belongs to the Parish of Saint John Vianney and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.
The whole church was built over a butte, and the valley below it stretches towards the horizon about 200 feet. Pretty impressive, right? It has the most beautiful architectural details that tie the Catholic faith through its structure on the solid rock. Another notable characteristic of this chapel is the giant cross that supports the structure of the glass.
As we already told you, the Painter and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude had initially planned to build the chapel in Europe, but she didn’t find any appropriate site. She later found the perfect place for the church at the hillside in Sedona, United States.
Yes, despite being built over half a century ago, the chapel’s modern and contemporary designs still surprise people from all over the world. The reason is its simple style of clean edges and regular forms, which beautifully accentuate the surroundings.
Situated on the southern side of Twin Buttes, the church is close to the main road to Sedona (Highway 179) on Chapel Road. It is meant to be a place of reflection and meditation; that’s why currently, there are no regular services held in the chapel.
Let’s Take a Peek Inside…
When you enter this amazing place, you’ll be greeted by a sign that reads, “Peace to all who enter.” The whole interior is simple, tranquil, and there is nothing more than a few seating areas and an altar.
All the interiors were kept neutral and simple so that they’ll not take away the attention from the spiritual inflection and physical block glass windows and the large cross that highlights the whole space.
The original conceptual design belonged to a Greek-based firm. It was proposed by the architects to build the chapel on the cliff of the island of Serifos, in Greece. The church will be beneath the earth’s surface, and it will open up at the edge of the cliff. This will provide a fantastic floor to ceiling view of the Aegean Sea. Also, the temperature is stable inside because the earth provides the proper thermal insulation to the place.
The chapel has been distributed vertically in three levels. The first level is entirely dedicated to the altar, the middle level is reserved for the nave, and the top-level is unoccupied, which is adorned by a gorgeous stained glass ceiling.
The altar and nave are connected by the steps, replacing the central aisle of the regular church, with the nave placed at the level above. Rather than making cruciform shaped openings in a regular façade, the architects designed the whole exterior or facade of the chapel in the shape of cruciform with regular openings.
The views are breathtaking when the morning eastern sunlight comes into the chapel through the transparent cruciform façade and tinted glass at the ceiling. It also links the facade to the wooden door in the west.
This is a true gem in the field of architecture that beautifully connects the religion and the architecture in the most creative way. Without disturbing the traditional values and culture, this modern structure is unique in itself.
I hope you like this blog and if you are still curious to know more about incredible structures around the world, browse various sections of Architecturesstyle.
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