CMR is happy to give its readers a preview of a remarkable shrine in Chicago, the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, now in its final planning stages. The Sanctuary grows from the vision of Fr. Anthony Bus, the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago, who tells the story of the sanctuary in his book A Mother’s Plea. The project’s architect, James McCrery of Washington, DC, a specialist in classical architecture, drew the sketches shown here (click the pictures for larger images).

The sanctuary is understood as a refuge in the heart of the city, with a large exterior garden surrounding a crucifix amidst a fountain of flowing water, symbolizing the grace flowing into the world through the sacraments of the Church.

The highlight of the project is the sanctuary proper, an interior chapel for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The entire complex grows from the primacy of the reserved Sacrament in the iconic monstrance, a large sculpted and gilded image of the Ark of the Covenant (the Ark containing the tablets of the Old Law) with an image of the Virgin (the new Ark) with the Blessed Sacrament located in her womb (the new Law) sitting atop it. Surrounded by pairs of columns of 12 different marbles which symbolize the Twelve Tribes of Israel being fulfilled in the 12 apostles, the chapel will be a place of absolute silence and prayer, a place to draw down God’s mercy upon the world.

The architecture draws from the tradition of Roman courtyards (especially Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome) as well as Byzantine and early Christian precedents. In a very sophisticated use of imagery and the classical orders, references to the Old and New Testaments are woven throughout the complex.

The Second Spring has indeed arrived in Chicago in the evangelical mission of prayer which will occur at the Sanctuary, but also in the sophistication of its architecture, which reconnects with the great tradition in a way completely new and needed in our times. The Sanctuary team is actively looking for generous donors to help make this worthy project a reality. It is a noble cause, has trustworthy and dedicated people seeing it to completion, and a talented architect who will prove that the great tradition of sacramental architecture and theological symbolism is still alive and well.