St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church, Peoria, Interior

I was absolutely stunned and delighted to find some magnificent paintings on the interior of St. Mark’s when I went inside on a quiet Saturday. There’s a long story about how the parish renovated the church to undo changes done in the mid-Twentieth Century, but one of the major alterations was to embrace the work of Fra Angelico, a famous Early Renaissance painter whose work I’ve known about for decades. The rich blue ceiling with gold stars has a long tradition, including in Giotto’s Arena Chapel in Padua and the original ceiling of the Sistine Chapel before Michelangelo’s frescoes.

The apse and side chapels now are adorned with copies of the artist’s works (the originals are obviously still in Italy and prohibitively expensive to purchase even if they were for sale). Interestingly, the stone altars are original and were returned by the buyers when the renovations began.

Above the high altar is a depiction of the Crucifixion, and thus begins the narrative.

Then on the lower left is a depiction of the Deposition, and then jumping to the lower right is the Entombment.

Next comes the scene which usually retains its Latin name, Noli Me Tangere, where Mary Magdalen spots the Risen Christ and mistakes him for a gardener. When she recognizes him as Christ, he responds “Do not touch me.”

Finally, the last panel in the upper right would seem to be a depiction of the Ascension, or possibly the Transfiguration, as you can see the faces of Moses and Elijah in the sky. As longtime readers might remember, the church of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist in St. Louis has a reproduction of Raphael’s interpretation of the Transfiguration.

The left altar is dedicated to Mary, and the Fra Angelico composition is a depiction of the crowning of the Virgin by Christ witnessed by a whole bevy of saints.

On the other side is a depiction of the Adoration of the Magi.

The stained glass windows are pretty darn nice, too, with again a depiction of the Adoration of the Magi.

If you look closely, you can see white hydrangeas at the feet of the Virgin.

I wonder if that is what caused them to be planted out front of the church.

A spectacular depiction of the Resurrection, the composition carefully taking into consideration of the tracery of the window, fills another window on the other side of the church.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Allison Smith says:

    Beautiful photographs!

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Thank you! It was very easy since the paintings and sculpture are so beautiful!

  2. Bob Shea says:

    Wow, that’s a beauty – must see! Thanks, Chris!

    1. cnaffziger says:

      It is, isn’t? I’m always pleasantly surprised at the churches of the Peoria Diocese.

  3. Megan says:

    Just a clarification here: the church is actually the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception (NOT St. Mark’s), and it’s the seat of the Peoria Diocese.

    1. Megan says:

      I sit corrected! (I’m getting my Peoria churches confused) Apologies.

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