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ANTONIO BARLUZZI and the PILGRIMAGE CHURCHES

 

Conclusion
 

Antonio Barluzzi designed, or restored, a number of other buildings in the Holy Land and other Middle East countries. Those likely to be seen by pilgrims include the Terra Santa School in Jerusalem of 1927, the restoration of St.Veronica on the Via Dolorosa, and the restoration of the cloisters at St.Catherines Church in Bethlehem, and of churches at Bethphage and Mount Carmel.

However it is the series of Pilgrimage Churches for the Franciscans in charge of the sacred sites in the Holy Land which best demonstrate Barluzzi's skill.  Their variety follows the change from revivalism in the early twentieth century to modernism at mid century; but much more so their architect's ability to design buildings to commemorate specific events in the life of Jesus, which capture the mood even without their artistic programmes. To paraphrase St.Francis of Assisi, "build architecture, and if necessary add paintings."

Barluzzi used both form and light to achieve this. The gloom of Gethsemane contrasts with the light of Mount Tabor, or the festive atmosphere of the Church of the Visitation.  The windowless tomb-like St.Lazarus contrasts with the outward looking Dominus Flevit. The Church of the Visitation also combines the ancient crypt with Barluzzi's new upper church in a harmonious whole;  the crypt speaks of  ancient tradition and family life, while above there is exuberant worship.

All these buildings can be called iconic, and most could be identified by their silhouette. They have different, and unique programmes of recalling important historic events. Hence they are rightly iconic unlike.....

At the same time they are deferential to their settings, and sympathetic to historic remains on their sites. Like their architect, and Jesus himself, they are great but humble.

The first application of Barluzzi's design approach could be to the design of churches, to interpret a congregation's mission statement. Beyond the provision of the appropriate facilities needed for specialist services such as nurseries, there is the interpretation of this architecturally. How can mass, scale, internal volume, texture, colour, light and so forth be used to concretise a particular mission statement and express the congregation's identity?

A second application could be to schools, and to ask if the design of the new academies actually relates to their specialist subjects and school ethos.

Would this approach restrict worship or educational changes in the future, or provide unique starting points leading to individual solutions with a sense of history?


 

Bibliography
 

The Churches of Antonio Barluzzi by Canon Peter C Nicholson, McCabe Educational Trust
www.mccabe-travel.co.uk
 or by Googling Antonio Barluzzi

Monuments of Glory by Daniel M Madden, Hawthorn 1964

www.custodia.org  is the website of the Franciscans, with further photographs of Barluzzi's churches, and much more of interest besides.

 
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