Saturday, July 31, 2010

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Celina, Ohio

While we continued driving on July 26th from a reunion to Goshen, IN (trying to meet brother Bruce for lunch), our GPS advised us to go through Celina, a small town which had eluded my notice heretofore.  As we were driving through, brother Mark and I spotted an impressive dome, topped by a cross.   Even though my photographer brother refers to the ocean and its shoreline as his cathedral, he kindly agreed to stop briefly at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Celina, Ohio (Mercer County) to let me shoot my kind of cathedral.

It turns out that this beautiful church was completed in 1903.  Like so many of the larger homes and county court houses in that part of Ohio, this structure was made of red brick and was yet another expression of the general Midwest Romanesque Revival architectural at that time.  The church is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The front entrance is flanked by two towers, each capped by a cupola and cross, and the central dome towers over everything else.

Although the exterior of the church obviously has many interesting features, the late-July day was becoming unbearably hot, so we headed inside to enjoy the sanctuary's warm colours and cooler temperatures. To the credit of the parish, their sanctuary was open even though we appeared to be the sole occupants during our brief 10-minute visit.  I was also pleased to see that the lighting at this hour could be and was entirely natural, which is unusual these days.

The exterior of the central dome drew our attention to this church, and the interior of the dome did not disappoint.  It does not have the interior soaring grandeur of Europe's Renaissance domes and cupolas, but the circular stained glass window here offers both light and the encouragement to look upward--one of the important characteristics of any sanctuary's interior.

The pool of holy water at the back of the sanctuary was the largest I recall seeing anywhere, so large that the water needed to be circulated continually.  The light from the stained glass windows reflected beautifully on this body of water.  The care lavished on this church by its small parish demonstrates the dedication of its members in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a time when the Midwest was starting to come of age and money was finally 'at hand'.  It also seems to combine architectural themes from both Europe and the Midwest.