John DeFazio, AIA
Early design sketches were done in pencil.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas
Song of Solomon 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
The rose is one of recurrent symbols of Christianity and directly associated with the Virgin Mary, the Mystical Rose. Usually shown in stylized form, the rose has been a common Christian symbol since the 1200s. It is used to represent the Messianic promise, the nativity of Christ, the virgin Mary (her rose is white for purity), or martyrdom (a red rose) and was often used in Gothic architecture. The word Rosary means "Crown of Roses". It is said that the Virgin Herself has revealed to several people that each time they say a Hail Mary they are giving her a beautiful rose and that each complete Rosary makes her a crown of roses. The rose is the queen of flowers, and so the Rosary is the rose of all devotions and it is therefore the most important one.
Our proposed design is based on the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe* itself and its link to the to the Rosary...
Perspective sketch in PowerCADD
Our design carves a garden court out of a flat, rural, undefined Indiana site. This court is to have a slight bowl shape that focuses on the podium, creating an outdoor church. Within the court, a fish-like bell tower rises, and, glazed in translucent glass, glows like a lantern in the prairie night.
The church is organized by the procession from prosaic space to the most sacred. This is paralleled in the quality of natural light in each space as you move from darkness to the light. One moves through a monumental vestibule, arriving onto the narthex that serves as an antechamber for the fellowship hall, the garden court and the church itself. Through the narthex, into the baptistery, with small confessionals cambers and a counciling room. Next is the heart of our design, the chapel to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Facing east, in a monumental window, the Virgin's iconic image is surrounded, like Juan's tilma**, spilling roses into the space. These roses with their heighten hyper realistic rendering, are of terraccota screened with stylized photo image. A thick wall, carved out with christian symbols, and bearing glass panels etched with biblical texts telling the story of the Virgin Mary, would dapple the chapel with soft northern light. From the chapel the parishioners filter into the main body of the church that leaps up in height. The entire church is thought of as a budding rose (see sketch) that cloaks and embraces the parishioners below.
*In Mexico, in 1531, Juan Diego, a local Indian, was on his way to church and to run errands when he heard singing as he approached the base of the hill known as Tepeyac. The singing was very beautiful and Juan decided to investigate. Suddenly he heard a voice saying to him "Juanito, Juan Dieguito" as one might address a child. When he approached the place to where he was called, he saw a beautiful lady with garments that shone like the sun. She revealed herself to be "the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God" and told him she desired a temple be built in the place where they stood. She directed Juan to go to the local bishop and tell him to erect a temple on that plain which Juan set off to do...
After a lengthy wait, Juan told the bishop what he had seen and what the "Lady from Heaven" had requested. The bishop listened to the request but appeared not to believe the story Juan told him. Juan returned to the site where Our Lady had appeared to him and told her what had transpired. Mary told Juan to go to visit the bishop again the next day, repeat his request, and tell the bishop that the Lady from Heaven was truly Mary, the Mother of God. Juan did as he was told the next day and after much resistance and difficulty was admitted to see the bishop again, at which time he repeated his message and the Lady's request. This time, the bishop questioned him extensively said that a sign would be necessary for him to believe that the Blessed Virgin was actually appearing to Juan.
Again Juan met Our Lady and again he related the details of his visit. Mary asked Juan to return the following day (Monday) and he would be entrusted with a sign for the bishop. Monday morning, however, Juan's uncle who had been sick suddenly took a turn for the worse and was feared near death. Juan stayed with his uncle that night and the following morning was on his way to another town to get a priest for his uncle.
On the way he attempted to avoid the place where Our Lady had twice appeared to him but she soon discovered him and asked why he did not return as promised the previous day. Juan told her of his uncle's condition; she admonished him to have courage and assured him that his uncle would soon be healed (which he was, of course). At this, Juan took heart and begged Mary for the sign to give the bishop.
She instructed him to go to the top of the hill where they had first met and to cut the various flowers he found growing there and then to bring them back to her. Juan did as he was told and found many different types of flowers growing there which was unusual due to the fact that the soil was very rocky (prior to that, mainly weeds had grown there) and because it was so cold that the flowers should have been destroyed by freezing temperatures. He gathered all the flowers he could, put them in his tilma, and brought them back to the Blessed Virgin who handled them before returning them to the tilma. She told Juan to unfold his mantle in the bishop's presence and let the flowers fall. This would be a sufficient sign to convince the bishop of the true identity of the "Lady from Heaven".
At Juan's third visit, he was beginning to be considered somewhat of a nuisance and was refused an audience with the bishop initially. The bishop's assistants finally relented a considerable time later and let Juan speak to him. Juan knelt before the bishop, relayed all the information Mary had told him, and opened his tilma**. The roses spilled out, but the sign to the bishop was actually a "portrait" of Our Lady divinely imprinted on the fabric of Juan's tilma.
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