Monday, May 4, 2009

Days of St. Boniface Past

Our abandoned churches have been getting a lot of love lately. First Transfiguration, and now beleaguered St. Boniface, the first Long Goodbye we had the pleasure (err, displeasure?) of visting. A lot of people have talked about this West Kensington landmark's former beauty, but the Project hasn't been one of them. Since we came into existence after the parish was already closed and mercilessly stripped, all we got to see was a broken ruin.

No more. Project reader and St. Boniface alum Marlene
Stuchko-Ashton forwarded the following image of the interior, courtesy a 1950s- or 1960s-era postcard:

(Click to Enlarge)

Hard to tell if it's an actual photograph or not; it looks more stylized, like an artist rendering, but that could just be the effects of aging and digital translation. Regardless, this ranks as one of the more striking churches in the Philadelphia area. A stunning blue and gold columned Gothic design, highlighted by one of the best altar pieces around and a rare wrap-around pulpit.

(And, oddly, it's eerily similar to the parish that ended up absorbing it: Visitation BVM.)

The whole thing is even more tragic because it could have been averted. St. Boniface was a unique closure in that the buildings decayed, not the parish population. It was one of the few instances where the Archdiocese's ham-fisted efforts were actually spot-on. (Although, honestly, they should have stepped and done something long before the building started caving in on the parishioners.)

Enjoy, and weep.


  1. "The stations of the cross, two side altars and a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help are going into the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Meanwhile, he has reason to believe that the main altar, stained glass windows and other accoutrements are headed to the new church of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Limerick, PA."

    Another inner city church looted to decorate a church in the rich, Republican suburbs.

  2. I have to say, as terrible as it is to lose another city church, I am thrilled that the destination is Teresa of Calcutta in Limerick - the pastor there is a family friend who married us, and he's got a wonderful eye for architecture and design. I really look forward to seeing the finished church.