Saturday, March 10, 2012


FB really does, at times, come through.

I recently happened upon this photo on friend/architect Rob Whalley's page, for example, of St. Benedict's Chapel, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. The chapel is in Sumvitg, Switzerland.

photo: Hans Danuser
From Danuser's book Seeing Zumthor
Here are some more photos, courtesy of Charles Luck Perspectives:



The photos so haunted me I then hunted up this video:

Here's another Zumthor chapel:

photo: Charles Luck Perspectives

How's that for the Third Sunday of Lent?!...


  1. This is utterly off-topic, but when I read this I thought of you and wondered what you might have to say about it (if anything). Here's the link:

  2. Thanks, Chip, I can't be that pessimistic and I try to avoid any kind of us vs. them mentality. I seem to do best when I remember that I'm part of the problem, because that spurs me to reflect upon and act in such a way that I can maybe be part of the solution. I see resurrection around me all the time, notably in my brother and sister sober alcoholic/addicts.

    Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete wrote a great piece in Traces around the anniversary of 9/11 last year about this darkness--the senseless abyss of evil that doesn't even really have a clear focus; that is motivated not by passion but by a kind of beyond terrifying void...

    To have faith in the face of that is its own kind of "insanity"-but an insanity that is toward light, not toward darkness. I mean look at Peter Zumthor's chapels! As Dostoevsky said, "We will be saved by beauty"...

  3. I wonder if he was inspired by a boat. Love all the wooden creaks.

  4. The boat comparison does seem apt, and happily made; after all, there's an old hymn that says we "wander in a fragile bark o'er life's tempestuous sea"! And while I do love basilicas and cathedrals, I also have a fondness for the smaller "skiffs" in which we make our way toward a safe harbor -- the chapels and oratories one finds in often unexpected places!

    Thanks, Heather, for the picture and for the video -- I wish that the videographer had lingered awhile longer at the back of the chapel, so we could have seen what are presumably sacred objects, and so we could have read the inscription on the wall. But always good to visit a chapel, even if only "virtually"!

  5. Hi Heather:

    I'll bite. What haunts you about these pictures? And what do they have to do with the Third Sunday of Lent? I see, but I don't understand.


  6. Peter! You can't see what haunts me about the photos--this gorgeous chapel that looks like a little ark in what appears to be a tiny, out-of-the-way Swiss town? Especially the first one, in the mist?...The world within and beyond and alongside this one that, the still point at the center of creation and our lives that to me, this chapel points to?...

    As for the the Third Sunday of Lent, I simply meant here is a little gift of beauty as we continue our desert journey. I could have put it up any day. I was just acknowledging that we were at the Third Sunday of Lent and here is Christ in the shadow of these mountains...

  7. That chapel is extraordinary in the range of associations it elicits: at once Noah's ark and the belly of the whale; the tomb of the Adamic self and womb of the new life in Christ that we are privileged to inhabit in the Church. I am generally not a huge fan of contemporary architecture but this shows that beauty comes in infinite guises. Thank you for including it in your blog: it is the perfect visual aid as we approach the middle of Lent.


I WELCOME your comments!!!