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‘Fitted for sacred use’ Vatican II and modernism in the physical, social and ritual space of three Australian churches

conference contribution
posted on 2017-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ursula De JongUrsula De Jong, Flavia Marcello
The liturgical reforms of Vatican II proclaimed the Mass as ‘source and summit of Christian life’ and encouraged the ‘full, conscious and active participation’ of all in the Eucharistic celebration. It had major implications for liturgical space in existing churches and the design of new ones and impacted the physical, social and ritual spaces in Australian Catholic churches. It also threatened the integrity of the Church’s cultural patrimony – both in its artistic objects and in the gestural practices of the faithful. The call for change occurred in the 1960s and aligned loosely with the continued quotation of Modernist principles that followed the precepts of pure form and structure and/or quoted a more organicist approach. In both cases, it seemed that history was to be discarded and tradition eschewed but at the same time there was an interweaving between evolving interpretations of post war Modernism and liturgical reform. By analysing and decoding Wardell’s St Patrick’s in Melbourne, Giurgola’s St Patrick’s in Parramatta and Taglietti’s St Anthony’s in Marsfield we tease out inherent tensions in how space is designed and built, how it is expected to be used, and how it is actually experienced. Our examples bring sharply into focus the issues arising from the re-shaping and reconfiguring of liturgical space in existing churches, and highlight the freedom given to architects in the design of new spaces, all ‘fitted for sacred use’.



Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand. Annual Conference ( 34th : 2017 : Canberra, A.C.T.)




Canberra, A.C.T.

Place of publication

Canberra, A.C.T.

Start date


End date






Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2017, Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand


Gevork Hartoonian, John Ting

Title of proceedings

SAHANZ 2017: Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand

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