Fordham University

 

Home | Ancient History Sourcebook | Medieval SourcebookModern History Sourcebook | Byzantine Studies Page
Other History Sourcebooks: African | East Asian | Global | Indian | IslamicJewishLesbian and Gay | Science | Women's


IHSP


MainAncientMedievalModern


Subsidiary SourcebooksAfricanEastern AsianGlobalIndianJewishIslamicLesbian/GayScienceWomen


Special ResourcesByzantiumMedieval WebMedieval NYC
Medieval MusicSaints' Lives
Ancient Law
Medieval Law
Film: Ancient
Film: Medieval
Film: Modern
Film: Saints


About IHSPIJSP Credits

Holy Trinity Church
Exterior

The Dome: Despite the church’s attempt to preserve the principle of the Byzantine dome as seen in the Sophia, McGuire and Considine had to make some necessary adaptations in order to accommodate the needs of modernity. In other words, balconies were put in around the church. Although the addition of the balconies does not provide a totally unimpeded view of the altar from all angles of the church, the interior still largely resembles the Sophia. Many consider both the exterior and the interior of this one hundred-foot tall dome to be a modern replicant of the original in Constantinople. And indeed, the church’s atmosphere does at times invoke a medieval and an exotic mid-eastern mood.

taylor5.jpg (57779 bytes) taylor5b.jpg (40482 bytes)

Ornaments: Perhaps it is not only the church’s dome, but also its prominent use of ornamentation that provides and inspires this mood. Byzantine art is heavily influenced by the concept of beauty. Beauty was always the goal which this medieval culture strove to attain in its architecture and works of art. For example, like the Sophia, the interior of the Holy Trinity Church contains radiant mosaics. Mosaics are tiles of variant colors which are put together in such a way to create or form a picture. However, the mosaics are not the only striking features of the church’s interior. Marble and gold facings also adorn the walls of the church.

taylor1a.jpg (60565 bytes)

Façade: The façade also exhibits the Byzantine standard use of gold adornments. Several sequences of three equally sized and connected golden circles brace the church’s front. The Holy Trinity is symbolized in each and every sequence of the three golden circles. A Latin phrase "Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto" (Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit) is also a representation of the Holy Trinity, as well as the Byzantine use of gold. This phrase, found on the building’s façade, is highlighted by a twenty-two karat gold mosaic. Other Byzantine objects of the church’s façade include a series of Greek Crosses and two towers, on either side of the building, each topped off with a small dome. Of course, no description of the church’s façade can overlook the eight enormous bronze doors that lead to the inside of the church

holytrinity.jpg (22797 bytes)

As one may assume, such an undertaking requires and demands a large budget. Because of this economic obstacle, Father Considine was unable to achieve the full Byzantine expression in decoration.

Renovations to the Exterior

The parish’s fifth pastor, Father Meehan, brought the church closer to Father Considine’s original ornamental vision. Between 1929 and 1932, the Holy Trinity Church under went a series of renovations in order to better emphasize its Byzantine theme.

The Statues of St. Peter and St. John (East Meets West)-- Although the parish is Roman Catholic, the design is of an Eastern Orthodox influence, Father Meehan felt it was necessary to symbolize the marriage between the two different parts of the old Roman Empire. Thus, two bronze statues, one of St. Peter and the other is of St. John, were placed on opposite sides of the facade. Peter, the bishop of Rome and the first Pope, is associated with the West and the Church of Rome while John, who lived in Ephesus when he wrote his Gospel, is associated with the East. Based on their associations with these areas, John was put on the Western side and Peter was put on the eastern side of the façade. Their presence and images represent exactly what the Holy Trinity Church represents-- the joining of the East and West.

Medieval NewYork | Holy Trinity Main | Byzantine Architecture |  Exterior  | Interior