Vol. XX, No. 8
Saint Paul the Apostle
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Images and text provided by and Copyright © to Duncan Stroik Architect, LLC
Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a charming city of 37,000 residents and counts a large number of fine churches among its historic buildings.
The downtown Catholic parish of Saint Paul the Apostle had by the mid 1990s outgrown its small historic church built in 1883. Since that time, Masses had been held in the school gymnasium. To build a larger church, the parish decided to take advantage of its urban location on a prominent site on East Main Street.
The traditional design of the new church reflects the universal Catholic faith and heritage, while also drawing specifically on Catholic architecture in the United States and the Lombard Romanesque tradition.
The handsome red Flemish bond brick and limestone-trimmed façade is set back from the street to create an inviting gathering space in front of the church. A set of stairs rises to the Corinthian arched prothyron covering the entrance doors that are the threshold into the sacred space beyond. A limestone lunette above the entry contains a bas-relief carving of the conversion of Saint Paul. Statues of Saints Peter and Paul flank the entrance to the right and left, while a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary looks on from a niche in the pediment above. A large circular window, limestone carvings of the four Evangelists, a row of intricate brick arches, and a painted metal Celtic cross, surmounting the pediment, complete the façade.
The interior of the church seats 800 in its basilica-style nave. Corinthian columns support archivolts and a ribbed barrel-vaulted ceiling. The axis of the main aisle leads to an elevated sanctuary with a colorful early Christian-inspired baldacchino that focuses attention on the marble altar. Twenty-four feet arched windows along the side aisles allow natural light to stream in and create marvelous shadows on the interior mouldings, column capitals, and other architectural details. Dark wooden accents from the ambo, doors, pews, and Stations of the Cross create a contrast with the light color scheme of walls, floor, and architectural elements.
The Church of Saint Paul the Apostle beautifully accomplishes its required mission: to provide a fitting setting for the Liturgy while also being a fine architectural addition to the city of Spartanburg.
(Images and text provided by Duncan Stroik Architect, LLC)
Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy