Dominating the commanding hill at the intersection of Gravois and Heege roads, the relatively new parish of St. John Paul II Roman Catholic Church in Affton was created by combining St. Dominic Savio and St. George in 2018, using the latter’s building. I looked at this church way off in the distance in the past back when it was still St. George’s way back in 2008.
A recent pet peeve of mine is that local architectural historians label any church in St. Louis with Italian influence Renaissance Revival. Ugh! Not every Italian style church in St. Louis is based off the literary, philosophical, cultural, artistic and architectural movement that began in Italy in the late Fourteenth and early Fifteenth centuries!!!
There was almost an entire millennium of Italian history between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. And a lot of things happened during that time.
This church is in the style of the Romanesque Revival, and while it certainly does not look like the Romanesque churches of Cologne, Germany, or France, it is the Romanesque as expressed in the Italian peninsula in the centuries around the year 1000 AD.
The attached rectory is built like a Mediterranean villa, facing east towards St. Louis. I can imagine that for generations priests have enjoyed their morning coffee out on that balcony.
The south side of the parish plant is dominated by parking lots, which at least give an idea of the overall appearance of the church. It is most similar to St. Ambrose on the Hill, which is likewise inspired by the Italian Romanesque Revival.
Anyhow, back up to the church, which features a beautiful portal facing Gravois.
The campanile, like in a typical Italian church, is offset from the main building, though that arch is a really nice touch connecting the two structures.
As I often remind readers, look to churches such as St. Ambrogio in Milan and its campanili for a comparison of architectural archetypes.
The portal facing Gravois is spectacular, a mix of the traditional with a bit of modern design.
The almond-shaped central motif is a mandorla, which is typically filled with the figure of Christ Triumphant, but in this case it serves as the mount for a lantern.
St. Louis terracotta artists love their coats of arms, which in this case is easily identifiable as St. George’s, the former patron saint of this church. Yes, it is one of the two crosses on the flag of Great Britain, and also the flag of England (the other is the flag of Scotland, the St. Andrew’s cross).
Amazingly, all four corners of this suburban intersection have survived demolition, which is a rarity in this world. I also decided it’s time to create a Gravois Avenue/Road tag, which you can now click on. I’ll be populating it with appropriate posts in the future.
Here’s one of the four corners; hopefully it won’t be demolished for a CVS anytime soon.
3 Comments Add yours
Love the details, and the explanations to go along with them. Thank you, Chris.
Thanks for reading!
Hello Chris. My name is Andy Bourneuf. My wife, Audrey, and I were married at St George in 1996. My mother told me that my uncle, George Maguolo, designed the church. He was an architect associated with several firms in the St. Louis area like Maguolo and Crossor Maguolo and Quick. I was wondering if you had any additional information that may confirm this fact.