Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beauty of St. Aloysius

The #1 bus on St. Clair has zipped by St. Aloysius for several decades. The passengers can ride from Public Square to Euclid, and not pay special attention to this marvelous church. Brick is quicker and cheaper than stone to build with. A lot of buildings were built with brick on the main avenues of Cleveland. Brick is less grand than stone. For those reasons one may overlook Aloysius.

It is dense with beauty in everything. The serenity and grandeur of sacred space is all about you upon entering. There is beautiful glass, statuary, shrines, paintings. It is beautiful and full of stories and lessons for those willing to see, and have understanding of christian theology and iconography (understanding symbolism). Aloysius was a daughter parish of St. Thomas Aquinas, if one looks at the time scale--more of a twin sister.

The neighborhood has had major change in the decades. It went from village to urban in less than a generation. Later as post-war highway expansion and increasing per capita wealth led people out and to Glenville (and so many other communities in the Middle West), and the immigration changed from over the Atlantic, to from south of the Ohio River the population changed. White flight, increased poverty, and finally a reduction of population changed demography.
Glenville was a separate municipality at the time Aloysius was founded--1898. Cleveland was annexing neighboring villages at that time. Cleveland's mayor from 1901 to 1909 was Tom Johnson, "the best mayor of the best run city in America". The Republicans ran a minor german beer magnate and beat him. Glenville and neighboring Collinwood, both on the northeast of Cleveland were annexed in 1910. The small and rich village of Bratenahl, on the lake shore betwixt them is still separate. It had the summer homes of the millionaires from Euclid Avenue. During Prohibition they received canadian whiskey by boat.

Cleveland was expanding, soon it was the 5th most populous city in the country. It maintained a near 900,000 population till the 1960s. In the 1930s and 1940s Glenville was very jewish. By the late 1960s it became very black, now it is about 98% so. In 1968 it suffered police shootings and riots. St. Aloysius was an irish parish, that had some germans and a few others.

Bishop Issenmann (1966-74) lived in Bratenahl and often went to St. Aloysius. Aloysius still has the visiting bishop's chair. ...a sister parish... St. Philip Neri was quietly suppressed by Lennon prior to the "official" announcement of reductions. A wooden statue of St. Philip Neri is now at Aloysius.

Main entrance has three double bronze doors, each door has three bas-reliefs. The left one has some of the most dramatic Old Testament scenes, truly edifying art.
The Vatican II changes were implemented keeping a beautiful rail. Some removed pews were sold to parishioners.
The stained glass is on the floor level, and a clerestory level. Beautiful south german painterly style. In the bottom right corners of the evangelist windows surrounding the original altar is the maker's name FX Zettler of Munich.
Over the years, Saint Agatha (1945-1974) and Saint Joseph parishes and schools were merged into Aloysius. There was an odd situation of Saint Joseph in which the parish closed for years, and the school remained open. Saint Joseph was the territorial, and original, parish in Collinwood (1877-1994). When the new church was built (1922) several blocks away, the school was on the top two floors, and one walked down steps to the church. Saint Joseph began as a mission church from St. Paul (Euclid). St. Jerome (1919) was a daughter parish of St. Joseph. Catholics along the lake shore petitioned the bishop in 1918 for a new parish.

A Sunday Mass is extremely warm and pleasant at Aloysius. At the beginning there is a near promenade of the parish with welcoming hand shakes and hugs. There is a reprise in the usual point after the Pater Noster. It is not the only parish in Cleveland that does this, others could still follow. Both they and St. Timothy engage in this joyous custom, and in hearty singing. Both are currently staffed with non-diocesan priests: Marianists and Capuchin Franciscans respectively.

No comments:

Post a Comment