The Immacolata

I’m surprised I’ve never photographed the Roman Catholic Church of The Immacolata, which is just a fancy word for the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Built in 1967 according to designs of architect Bernard McMahon, it represents one of many innovative designs constructed by the Archdiocese around the mid-Twentieth Century.

Its vast, reinforced concrete roof that sweeps up to the apse is reminiscent of the Church of Notre Dame Du Haut in Ronchamp, France, where Modernist ecclesiastic architecture reached new heights, making a heavy, bulky building material look weightless. I can’t help but think the belfry looks a little like Spanish Colonial churches in San Antonio, though.

There is a more conservative parish building a little ways down the hill, away from the front doors that face away from Clayton Road. In a way, the church has two public faces and is a bit autocentric!

Inside the narthex is this stained glass window; all windows were completed by the Unique Art Glass Company.

I lucked out and the doors were open and the lights were on (I never luck out!). The sanctuary is a bright auditorium space without the traditional nave or transepts, but does include an apse painted in a rich blue. The two eye-shaped stained glass windows remind me of the former Corpus Christi in Jennings.

The pews spread out like a fan, ending in an arcade at the back, with parabolic arches not dissimilar to the ones at the Priory.

The apse, with its skylight is adorned with a shining crown of thorns and what appears to be a mosaic of gilded flames. The altar is travertine, a stone common as a building material around Rome for millennia.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. The three bells in the tower ring every quarter hour in what the manufacturer called a “modified Westminster” clock-chime.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Hmm, interesting.

  2. Laurie al-Saawi says:

    Good afternoon Mr. Naffziger,
    I have so thoroughly enjoyed your segment on Roman Catholic Churches in the Saint Louis area. It has been a ‘blast TO the past’ in every sense, however in the most unassuming way, it highlights the downfall of our Catholic parishes in the United States. It saddens me yet, your poignant pictures shine a light on those brighter days of past years. Thank you 😌.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Thank you for tuning in!

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