Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, a Cream City brick church located on Milwaukee’s North Side, was built in 1876 by German immigrants. Today, the Puerto Ricans worship here. The parish is administered by the Capuchins. This past weekend was Doors Open Milwaukee, and Saint Francis was on the list of holy places in the city to discover. There are many stunning works of art to admire inside the walls of this old church. The large frescos showing scenes from the life of Saint Francis are breathtaking. The elegant woodwork and stained-glass windows are exceptional. I was struck that there were four confessionals along the walls of this relatively small church.
Sadly this architectural gem, so rich in history, was not spared the modernist renovations that defaced countless Catholic churches in America. It seems like the restoration of historic buildings is in vogue everywhere except in Catholic churches. Restore the sanctuary and altar under the apse. Bring back the Communion rail. Reinstall the pews.
For an excellent book on liturgy and ritual, pick up Uwe Michael Lang’s, Signs of the Holy One: Liturgy, Ritual and Expression of the Sacred.