“Hearkening back to one of the earliest forms of church architecture, the Church of the Transfiguration gave a 21st-century expression to this ancient design from which all Christians can trace their heritage.” – Community of Jesus (an ecumenical Christian community in the Benedictine monastic tradition).
In the heart of Cape Cod in Orleans, Massachusetts a Christian community has sheltered its monastic spirit under the roof of the infamous Church of Transfiguration. The holy sanctuary was designed entirely by William Raw, a well –established award winning Bostonian architectural firm that essentially created a modern, yet traditional sacred space offering a unique serenity to all the worshipers attending the church. The church is comprised of a honey-colored Limestone found within the Minnesota geological formation. The architectural motif of a 4th century Basilica design (a.k.a “Hall of the King”) was sculpted into this rich limestone.
Multiple synchronized ringing bells, a fountain and various handmade figurative stone artworks are several of many of the decorative highlights – enriching not only the Holy Spirit of the church, but the spirits of its followers and miscellaneous visitors. Despite this astonishing stone edifice hiding its most precious and artistically rich spectacles of the church’s interior design, it is discreetly filled with handcrafted Christian Mosaics, fresco images, glass and stone artworks.
What is the historical connection between Christianity & Mosaics?
Christianity played a key inspiring role to the then Known World – allowing the subsequent blossoming of the mosaic cosmos. During the early Christian art movement (300-400 CE), wall mosaic artworks replaced the decorative religious paintings and brought vibrant color and energizing light to the broad walls of Basilica. Gold, gems and other various luxurious materials were utilized on the walls and also on ceiling mosaics – in order to inspire their worshipers, stating the quality of their beliefs. Unfortunately, there is limited knowledge into the early phase of this part of Christian ornamental art history – as most pieces have either disappeared (stolen) or destroyed during the first half of the 4th century.
Let us open these holy doors ornamented with the figures of Adam & Eve, whilst entering the interior of the Church to further explore more Christian mosaic treasures:
The Byzantine-style Christian mosaics that beautifully embellish the Church of Transfiguration are created following strictly ancient & traditional techniques; five continuous years were necessary in order to successfully complete the outstanding apse mosaic and three years to prepare and install the floor mosaic. The interior of the Church is dominated by the grandiose mosaic mural artwork of Christ Pantokrator (Christ Almighty) found directly behind the altar.
The processional path, floor font and ambo platform of the Church was designed and materialized by numerous community members and by the well respected church artist, Helen McLean. The experienced artist initially hand painted a full-scale version on cardboard (floor & apse) and as the painting was slowly dissected into smaller pieces, they were sent to a master mosaicist in Ravenna – Alessandra Caprara, to initiate the magnificent mosaic creation. The artist carefully selected various hues of natural stone or glass to be used in the Christian mosaic artworks to accomplish the uniformity of the color palette intended for the church.
Below the center walkway is displayed starting from the grandiose eastern doorway to the altar. A remarkable multicolored handcrafted floor mosaic most certainly adds a unique artistic touch, filled with bustling color contrasts on the holy pathway & surrounded by the baptistery baths.
The Church of Transfiguration encompasses murals – combining a variance of both mosaics and paintings on the clerestory. The artworks depict the life of Jesus through colorful and vivid figurative scenery. The columns are decorated with unique frescoes that beautifully depict heavenly Biblical scenes.
The iconographic interior of the church was directed through specific principles. The main principle was to create holy scenery depicting aspects of salvation as defined in the scriptures of Genesis to Revelations, via intricate Christian mosaics and mural drawings.
The Church of Transfiguration is without doubt a spiritual and holy sanctuary with a brilliant collection of original religious art that transmits its sacred ambiance – spiritually as well as visually.
Got inspired by reading this article?
Looking for holy decorative ideas to inspire your indoor or outdoor spaces? You can find ideas and unique handcrafted Christian Mosaic Artworks to create a unique and harmonious environment for you and your loved ones.