Creation of a Sacred Space: 'Saint John's Abbey Church'

By Kate Metzger
University of St. Thomas Newsroom

Young_Saint coverJust as they did in the 1950s when they invited Marcel Breuer to Collegeville to design their sacred space, the Benedictines of Saint John’s Abbey welcomed Victoria Young, professor and chair of the St. Thomas Art History Department, to tell the story of the abbey church.

Young’s book, Saint John’s Abbey Church: Marcel Breuer and the Creation of a Modern Sacred Space, was released by theUniversity of Minnesota Press in October. It illuminates the story of how the Saint John’s monks chose the Hungarian-born architect, an untested religious designer, to produce a work of modern sculptural concrete architecture that re-envisioned what a church could be and set a worldwide standard for midcentury religious design.

The book documents the dialogue of the design process: Breuer instructed the monks about architecture and they, in turn, guided him and his associates in the construction of sacred space in the crucial years of liturgical reform.

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