1.15.2007

Our Lady of Vilnius

Everywhere I turned there were eyes watching me: Jesus, Saint Paul, Mary and many other figures of church history. It was was eerie. I did not like it.

The engineering company I work for was retained to perform a structural review of Our Lady of Vilnius Church in Manhattan. So I spent four hours avoiding contact with statues and stained glass as I did my job.

The church is in danger of being sold if it is beyond repair. The people associated with the church very much want us to be able to fix it. Joy, the care-taker, asked that I would put her request that the church be repaired into my report.

The very place that I could not wait to get out of was of immense importance people. I viewed all the eyes in the room as looking at me. Others must see the faces as watching over them.

4 comments:

Nobody's Wife said...

In an article in "Bridges", a Lithuanian/American publication, Aldona Kepalaite, the now-deceased organist of Our Lady of Vilnius, is described as purposely coming early to be alone in the empty church, which she described as "glowing with its own light". I had this feeling myself long before I read that article. When I first saw the desolate sanctuary I felt a sensation of peace and a knowledge that Our Lady was watching over us, perhaps unknown and unrecognized, but still glowing with Her own light. I pray that she will find a way to protect and preserve this church.

c-spewer said...

Chez, I'm not sure I follow. Did having statues looking at you make things creepy for you?

It's interesting to look at church buildings of the past compared with those of today. The trend is certainly more towards the casual church; however, I feel like lately I've seen some really nicely architected Presbyterian and Episcopal churches. Maybe there's hope. Still, I hope our society is able to preserve the older ones.

Kevin Cieslukowski said...

Chew, good to hear from you.

I was all alone in the church and I could hear noises like the wind or heat in the pipes. In my peripheral I could see figures and eyes. It wigged me out a little.

Maybe I am overreacting, I don't know. I did take sometime after being there a while to soak it all in thinking about all the homilies given and people that have come through the doors.

Unfortunately I think that the church will be sold. The land is worth millions and fixing the church is doable but probably won't fly with the higher ups.

Nobody's Wife said...

Chezman,

The church was locked by the archdiocese on February 26. For the first time in 2 months I was able to go inside. The statues were bubble wrapped and taped with catalog numbers. The altar icon was shrink-wrapped and now rests on the floor. The stained-glass windows are not in place and other art has been painted over. There are no more eyes to watch over the empty space. I pray for the protection and restoration of my spiritual home.