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Reviewer: Akila Mathis-Adams

First and foremost, I added one more page of material to my analysis to meet the length

requirement. Akila mentioned that the weakest part of my analysis was that I didnt go into much

detail about where the mission fit into the history of Christian architecture. I believe I got

overwhelmed in trying to squish all of Sacred Power, Sacred Space into one page to summarize

the history. However, there was information to be added that was relevant to the mission, which

is the whole point of the analysis. I did take her advice and add a little more information about

the missions place in history. She also mentioned that the organization was very clear in the

description of Christian worship and architecture, so I attempted to keep it similar and not

confuse the reader in adding more topic-specific information. She said that the organization was

least clear when I talked about the situational and substantive perspectives, because I jump into

social power directly afterward. I completely understood this because, like before, I was

overwhelmed in attempting to tackle all three powers and two perspectives at once. My thoughts

are very sporadic and it came across in that section. So, after taking a break and coming back to

the paper, I was able to introduce the topics and transition between them much more smoothly

than I previously did. Akila said that overall, the analysis was very well-written, and that it

looked like I took [my] time and read through everything to make sure it was accurate. I

assumed that this meant my use of evidence and the analysis of each aspect was very thorough,

complete, and easy to follow. Something she suggested I include was some sort of discussion

about the two sub-churches of the mission. I thought that this was a good point, considering the

fact that they have a lot to do with the sacred power of the mission. However, I knew I didnt

have a very large amount of space left to get into detail, so I dismissed this. I kept my citations

the same, as those didnt require any fixing.


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Santana Ramos

Grant Adamson

Christianity & Art

23 November 2016

Church Analysis Draft

Mission San Xavier del Bac was established in 1692 by Father Kino. It is a space filled

with symbolism and a very particular way of expressing divine power. To understand the

churchs power dynamics, however, it is important to know how Christian architecture has

evolved since the time of Christ. In the beginning, the religion was looked down upon by society.

For this reason, Christians held meetings in their homes, where they would join in fellowship as

they shared a meal. The group sizes would continue to grow as the religion flourished,

demanding for a much larger meeting space, and these homes evolved into domus ecclesiae

(Kilde 23). Because there were so many people, it became increasingly difficult to continue the

typical meal-sharing gathering. While believers continued to worship through songs, reading

aloud scriptures from the bible, and prayer, there was a shift in worship practices. Arguably, this

is the time that the modern church, per se, was born. People gathered in plain buildings,

participated in the church offering, and the clergy was formed. This simple establishment of

leaders led to a major shift in churches, as the hierarchy granted much more power to the clergy.

As churches continued to grow in size and develop in structure, spaces would become more

formal. Thus, the martyria was introduced, in which there was a large central space for

worshippers to gather (Kilde 36). This was a major advancement in that it was one space

dedicated only to worship and, because of the fact, was filled with a holy presence. It wasnt

until the year 312 that Constantine would accept and appropriate the religion in Rome (Kilde 39).
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This was a revolution in Christianitygrand churches were beginning to spring up

according to the leaders requests, and he began to incorporate the religion into politics for the

first time. In Roman basilica churches, there was a deeper division between the clergy and laity,

with the emergence of veils and curtains the shield especially sacred places within the church, to

which only the clergy was allowed entrance. Like the martyria, these buildings embodied the

presence of supernatural power, and enveloped social power (Kilde 51). Churches began to

include art and other representations of their beliefs through architecture. During the reformation,

however, iconoclasm occurred, creating a new divide in Christianity that led to a shift in

Christian architecture altogether. Some groups, such as Catholics, continue to create churches

that are heavily adorned and decorative, while others opted for a very basic, simple structure that

emphasized connection to the Spirit. Mission San Xavier del Bac happens to be a part of the

former, with its abundance of art and intricate details. It is also one of many churches that was

introduced with the purpose of converting the nativeswhich is why its exterior embraces the

adobe style of the southwest.

Now, we must take into account that there are two types of views in the study of sacred

space: situational and substantive. The situational perspective is objective to the Christian belief

in a divine power, while the substantive view takes those beliefs into account. For instance, the

mission includes a cruciform floor plan, in which the people gather and take the shape of Christ.

In this case, the situational conclusion would be that the people arrange themselves in this

particular fashion because it symbolizes their following of Christ, and a God who may or may

not exist. The substantive view would lead us to conclude that the cruciform plan embodies

Christ and Gods divine power, calling the church to be more like Christ, both as a group of
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believers and as individuals. In addition to these two perspectives, the three types of power

social, personal, and divine/supernatural powerare an important part of analyzing sacred space.

The nave (or central area) is the main portion of the church that represents the divine

presence, similar to the martyrium. This area contains the pews, where the laity sit and listen to

the priest during church services. The clergy, however, sit in the apse, the semi-circular top of the

cruciform plan. This reiterates social power, as only the elites of the church are allowed to sit in

an area separate from the others, signifying their higher position of power in relation to the laity.

Another example of this would be the pulpit, where the priest stands to deliver a message. This

podium of sorts is a symbol of his wisdom and power (Kilde 9). All throughout the mission, the

physical placement is purposeful and carries some sort of meaning to the people who gather

there. From the situational perspective, it can be seen that the church organizes themselves in this

way to create a sense of order. From the substantive perspective, it becomes clear that this

hierarchy of power contributes to the need for intercessors to bring Gods message to the people,

and vice versa.

Though the clergy is given more power than the laity, the hierarchy of social power didnt

take away from personal power. In Mission San Xaviers transeptsthe arms of the cruciform

planthere are several altars dedicated to saints. While each altar holds its own purpose, and is

important in its own way, one of the most important is arguably the altar dedicated to St. Francis

Xavier. In ancient times, some believers would lay underneath the casket where deceased saints

remained and pray to the saint, whether it be a message to be passed to God or directly to the

saint. Because it was impossible for the people of the region to travel across the world to St.

Francis Xaviers actual remains, a replica was created to serve the same purpose. This altar, and

the others in the church, invite the supernatural power of God into the church, and allows the
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people to have a personal connection to God. They are not listening to a message from someone

with more social power, but rather, spending personal, one on one time in the spirit. Without

ever leaving the mission, they are able to participate in a simulation of a pilgrimage. Because the

mission was initially created to convert the natives, these altars are important in exposing each

individual to their personal power, and the fact that each has a personal spiritual experience.

Therefore, the situational perspective allows us to see that these indicators of personal power

were practical in the persuading natives to join the church by answering the question Whats in

it for me? The substantive view can almost be tied into this, as a major part of personal power is

having a divine connection with God, which is strictly spiritual.

Both of these powers can tend to be overlapped, along with supernatural power. As I

previously mentioned, the altars in the church were meant to promote personal power, but they

also promote supernatural power by creating a means for God to enter and be present in the

sacred space. This is important because churches or other holy sites are not inherently sacred

(Kilde 7), so the divine presence must be invited into the space, in terms of the situational point

of view. However, Constantine is an example of someone thinking from the substantive point of

view. He believed that particular locations were holy, and erected churches in those areas for that

reason. While this was also a political decision, the idea of divine power being present in the

location is a critical point, because it was still a deciding factor in the matter. Through location,

dcor, and worship, supernatural power is drawn into the sacred space.

All three of the powers discussed allow for the situational and substantive analyzation

and discussion of Mission San Xavier del Bac, because whether or not one is a Christian

believer, they can evaluate the physicality and people of the church to understand its function.

Works Cited
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Anstar Productions Group. Mission San Xavier del Bac on Google Maps Street View.

HYPERLINK "https://www.google.com/maps/@32.1068424,-

111.0079381,3a,75y,0.91h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfskGO009U2IAAAQYEZG2-

w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656" https://www.google.com/maps/@32.1068424,-

111.0079381,3a,75y,0.91h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfskGO009U2IAAAQYEZG2-

w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Kilde, Jeanne Halgren. Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture

and Worship. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, AZ. HYPERLINK "http://www.sanxaviermission.org/"

http://www.sanxaviermission.org/