A Protestant Tours a Massive and Immaculate Gothic Church in St. Louis, Missouri

We're going to a Catholic Church this Time around in St Louis Missouri it's Called The Saint Francis Xavier College Church College Church part is because Since the mid maybe even early 19th Century it's been associated with what We now call St Louis University and the Saint Francis Xavier part of the name is Because of the influence of the Jesuit Order which continues to be a Significant presence in St Louis it's a Subset within Catholicism for Outsiders I'll do an interview with the Jesuit a Little bit later on I already have that Recorded and he'll answer more questions About exactly what that means but it's a Group that started up and quickly came To prominence in the 16th century Somewhat in response to the pressures of The Protestant Reformation somewhat of Its own volition toward communicating in A very straightforward way the message Of Jesus to the far reaches of the world It's a very missional expression of Catholicism so this church is right Downtown of course it's historical Monument everything all of that stuff But it's built in the Gothic Revival Style not Gothic not like Notre Dame It's more recent than that they started On this church in the 19th century I Think Ruth covers that in the video but Uh I don't mind doubling up on it and it Was a multi-generational project it

Wasn't finished until World War one I Think it's one of the most beautiful Churches you'll see anywhere in this Country two I think it will transport You a little bit to some of the great Classics of what I guess here we would Call the old world back in Europe three I think you're going to see that the Layers of meaning here are massive four I think you're gonna see that the thing Was built with one set of pressures in Mind one set of goals and outcomes in Mind and that is time unfolds the church Is maybe hitting a different point of Emphasis now and whether you agree with All those points of emphasis or not it's Interesting to see how a building if Built Timeless enough can transcend a Lot of Ebbs and flows of societal Pressures societal Trends felt needs and Different things that people need to do So I'm going to take you to St Louis Missouri to one of the most beautiful Churches I've ever seen we're going to Meet Ruth and we're going to get a good Look at Saint Francis Xavier College Church I'm pretty excited oh that's Beautiful I am welcome thank you for Coming to see us yeah we're honored to Have you here today would you like to Step inside these are the biggest church Stories I've ever walked through in my Life maybe except St John's lateran These are serious doors all right yes

Hold the thumb latch there you go oh It's so quiet yes it's like having eight Inch thick wooden doors actually Insulates very much like that yes Because I don't think when they did they Anticipated as much traffic so this was Yeah it already feels like sanctuary and We're nowhere near the sanctuary yet Right it's working and one thing I want To call to your attention out here right Now is the floor And the granite wainscoating that we Have out here we did a major renovation Under this building in 1990. At that time the entire church looked Like this So when you see inside it's a much Different feeling a much lighter feeling So let's step inside I'm excited okay So step in and see oh renovation and the Difference in the two areas It's like I have walked into a different Reality than the fountain and the Intersection and the street out in the Weather out there yes this more than Maybe Almost any other church I've been to Takes me to Just a different place and maybe it's Because there's nobody else in here Right that adds to it too it's just you And I personally get a sense of Holiness Every time I walk in here and we're so Blessed that we're anchored here these

Columns are actually anchored in Bedrock You notice there aren't any cross beams There aren't any as you would have Load-bearing walls in other buildings You see the curves coming down from the Ceiling that's dispersing the weight of The roof down through these columns all Right so you're talking about These almost flower formations yes That's Distributing weight that's Actually doing something the weight yes It's not just there for looks the Converse of that would be like the Cathedral of Notre Dame that has the External buttresses that support the Walls and the roof of that building That's a Gothic Cathedral we can see Those flying Butters exactly and this is This is actually was a design of an English Gothic Revival that was going on In the United States well actually Around the world about the turn of the Last century now Saint Paul's in London That's more of a continental Gothic Exactly correct exactly so this is Trying to draw some of the visual Features that you get with those External buttresses but without the External buttresses true what year was Ground broken here the ground here was Broken in 1848. so they finished the basement First so that the people had a place to Worship and it wasn't until 1896 that

They completed this upstairs and were Able to actually rededicate the building So this is not just old world Beauty in Look this is Old World time frame like a Generational project exactly and the Amazing another amazing thing about it Is because the St Louis was built was Growing so rapidly at that time with European immigrants coming in so it was The stone masons it was the plasterers It was the Woodworkers it was all of These people that could look at the Design and say we can do this so if you Look up at the capitals of the columns Okay decorative fellas this little Fufu French stuff up there okay okay now You'll look over at the other one And then you can look at this one over Here and you'll notice they're all Different yes they are I wouldn't have Noticed if you hadn't told me though now To me and I have not found anything Definitive about this but to me it Represents all of us That we're all beautiful but we're all Different And this is repeated in all of the Clusters in all of the all over in the Ceilings in everything that is so much Extra work for something Most people most people I wouldn't have Noticed because you just know that There's fancy stuff up at the top of the Column do I call this a rose window you

Do call that a rose window yes you do Well that's neat and that is today it is Extremely blue it changes colors as do All the stained glass windows with um With the atmosphere so today it's super Blue there are times where you see a lot Of the red I particularly like up here The way you've got those four skinny Little almost like fantasy weapon blade Looking Windows around the central Flower I don't think I've ever seen Stained glass in that kind of shape That's really neat yeah and this this Pattern this quadrifoil pattern you'll See repeated throughout the church in All of the stained glass windows and It's even in the pews oh yeah and these Pewans were from the original pews in The church the one dedicated okay but When this was built people seem to have Been small smaller because when we put In the new benches they extend a little Little more than the original framework You mean like the depth of the leg Seating when you're here see yeah okay I Am like a person of the 1800s because on Modern pews I get the Muppet legs okay Where I just can't quite touch and they Just sit nicely in the old pews I'd be a Very dignified 19th century and they Were very straight upright they were They were not designed for Comfort yes Yes But they don't add the seats so what

Does this quadriform thing mean what is It nothing more than nothing more than Just you know a there's no real Significance to it if you want to call It the the four gospel writers which are Mentioned up there in the raridos we'll See them as we move up that direction Let's go with that right I like it let's Do that I think if that points to the Four gospel writers there we go okay I Like all four of those so they're all Good yeah I'm glad I'm glad they kept Them in the book before I ask you about These windows I'm seeing like a fort kind of thing up Here with windows that would have been Something I would have obsessed over as A child like how do I get up there They're like long hallways and it's Called a clear story clear story above That are windows all the way up against The ceiling then below that the archways Is called the triforium again this is a Feature an architectural feature in Gothic churches prior to that time Churches didn't have windows so the First of the windows were these clear Story windows that are up there right Now and then later they got more Advanced and more extravagant as they Develop more engineering to hold the Weight of the building and keep the Walls up they were able to figure out How to add more windows then they

Decided to use the windows as Learning tools because you're talking With a population who were not Necessarily literate So many in many churches you find gospel Stories and stories from the Old Testament What story do these windows Tell these are about Jesuit Saints each One is like a storyboard so one whole Grouping of Windows is about one Particular Saint so we'll move up here To this front one which is the window For Saint Francis Xavier the patron Saint of this Parish what this window is Telling is the attributes and charisms Of Francis Xavier as a man Francis Xavier started out in India and ended up In Asia as in China and Japan trying to Bring Christianity there again not well Received but he did not necessarily diet Martyr as such he would get thrown out Of China and he worked out a deal with Pirates in the area who would pick him Up and take him out to a small island And leave him there for a little while And the next pirate ship that would come By he could get back on and they'd bring Him back into the mainland until they'd Catch him again and said so this was Repeated well at one point he did catch Pneumonia and sadly died on one of those Islands waiting for the pirate ship to Come and get him speaking of the Quadrafoils the top right hand one it

Says his life so 1506 to 1562. then we Have I had mentioned now we're in the Area that had we had the communion rail Been here we would have had come through The communion rail to be up in here okay There were side altars all throughout Here so this this one and it's its Sister over on that side were the two That they maintained after the Renovation and that was just a function Of being able to serve more people in a Reasonable amount exactly and it was it Was said at one point for many years That you could walk into this church at Any time and find a mass because prior To Vatican II every Catholic Had to say Mass every day and there were A lot of statues involved in those some Of them we still have in storage Downstairs all right just in case There's a Vatican three exactly and they Want to bring them back that's right We're good this one right here is called Mary comforter of The Afflicted and this Is the Virgin Mary holding little baby Jesus and around her are people in Various states of need the gentleman to The right of the statue has chains on Him there's a looks like a mother with Probably a sick child and they're coming And asking for her prayers to solve Whatever they have what condition they Have whatever they're trying to overcome So while Catholics don't they don't

Consider Mary Um like God or in in on that level Whatever she is a highly favored woman I Mean she was chosen by God personally to Bear his son and so if you go to your Mother and ask when Dad says let's talk About it you talk to mother mother will Say could you please help out dad will Say okay so that's kind of what goes on There yeah and as an outsider that's Always been a tricky equation to me Because I really track with that analogy I mean I've lived that analogy But at the same time in my family like Dad isn't the all-knowing maker of Heaven and Earth and immutable and Unchanging in all his ways so that's a Dynamic that I am still working to wrap My brain around from the Catholic Perspective but I'm just going to keep Working on it keep working on that yes Yes yes yes yes but he's got a special Place for Mary yeah so the gentleman on The right like clearly based on what This is it's not Peter but it's Certainly evocative of Saint Peter and Change kind of yes and so it would make You think of that it would make you Think of that yes and the idea of Peter Being especially beloved given his role In The Exchange in Matthew 16 within Catholically exactly the idea of him Seeking help right Mary would be Consistent with Catholic theology it

Would be send a message yes yes and Peter Peter did have his foibles and his Weaknesses and he was like our every man Yes he's the point of view character Exactly exactly yes Everything's stupid he did I would have Done everything smart he did I wouldn't Have yes yes that's that's our Peter Yeah I'm not gonna uh I can't give him a Hard time yeah nope no I would have been In the boat and we'll come around here And we'll look at this raridos now that We spoke of a moment ago okay what is This made of it is made of Carrera Marble by and large this is a stunning Work of art yes like if somebody's Looking at this and they think there's a God they don't think there's a guy any Conviction you might have this is Inarguably compelling it tells a story Of the people who made it it tells the Story of the people who valued it enough To commission it exactly it tells a Story of an era of how people thought About the depiction of other people yes It's absolutely magnificent and there we Have the evangelists and that first Level up oh the symbols the symbols of The Evangelist right then the two Statues on the first level the one on The left is Francis Xavier nice beard Yes nicely trimmed seriously I'm Impressed that's a great beer to you Yeah is that

I mean do we have a painting do we have A I know that there are any from that Time I don't know if there are actually Any Um now Ignatius I believe there were Because he had a distinct nose yes yeah I remember seeing him back who this is Over here so he's he has the other spot Up there and of course being Jesuit These guys got you know top billing and Of course above all is our beloved Savior Jesus of course there Our Risen Lord who is reaching down and offering His his love with his outstretched hands In the two Bob release reliefs that we Have up here the one on the left is the Multiplication of the lobes and the Fishes you see the loaves of bread in The in the baskets and Jesus is feeding The five thousand on the other side we Have Jesus at the wedding Feast of Cana And you see him with the jars and he is Blessing them and turning the water into Wine we've got bread And we have wine Which are the two elements in the Catholic mass that make up the Eucharist Or make up the communion sometimes I Look at artwork in a church and I'm like No I'm one step ahead of you I think I'm Tracking other times I look at it I'm Like now why did they go with this one About Bread and this one I hadn't connected

The dots and then you said it and I felt Embarrassed in my heart that it wasn't Immediately evident but that just goes To show Okay the guy I went to school for this I Really I really care about this stuff I'm super interested not even just in my Own version I mean we're here right And I've been looking at it I I had Little kids animated books when I was a Baby and I'd flip through and see the Depictions of these stories and here I Am With my brain on because I don't want to Look like an idiot on the internet and And I'm paying very close attention and I'm listening very closely and I didn't Immediately make the obvious connection I mean this church just has a mountain Of stuff to teach you exactly just in The images yes no matter how much I've Been around sit in here for how much I Might have cleaned and just you know in Any in any milk or cranny and just be Just swept away I think we could spend An hour looking at this that said I keep Eyeballing this other piece over here Can we walk over and yes we will okay Yes we will You'll notice yet a different design Yeah on this one yes Huh Oh there are two pieces here I didn't See this fella touched back this is yes

This is another of the two that we Salvaged and salvaged from the old Building from the from the from the Renovation okay this is one of the main One of the side altars Salvage Good job it's nice this is called the Death of Saint Joseph now if you'll Notice in scripture we don't hear Anything about Joseph after he gets lost At the time Temple and they have to go Back and find him obviously they did the Gospel writers didn't see that he was Into growth into the story of Salvation So he just he did his job and he was Probably much older than his right That's what they're saying yes Supposedly he was older because Mary was Just a teenager Jesus was growing in Wisdom and stature in favor with God and Men but he probably lost He is he is thanking him by commending Him to heaven So whether or not Jesus was an adult When Joseph died or not that's what this Is representing is the the honor that Was due to Joseph for stepping into that Role and believing what Mary and the Angel told him that this was a good Thing Ruth this is one of my favorite Things I've ever seen in a church and The reason is I just feel like Joseph does not get Enough credit right even as a Protestant Though obviously I don't have the

Theological mechanisms or convictions to Go to the same places that in Anglican Or an orthodox or a Catholic Christian Would go with Mary still highest esteem I mean the scripture says what it does She said yes to a thing that would be Catastrophic socially right maximum Respect right but you go and you look at At Joseph and Matthew and this last time That I went through Matthew I actually Put some time and thought about this how About that guy keeping this family safe Doing something that most guys would not Do in that position in terms of dignity Right like what the implications for for Taking on a pregnant fiance for his Family lineage for his fortune exactly Is is his kid even going to receive his Inheritance was not a very big town so No the the Rumors were out there well before you Know which is probably why he considered Divorcing her quietly and and when the Angel came and said you don't want to do That yeah no you can do this so he Believed God too and also I'm a dad and my kids are little And my heart is very soft for them and Just this depiction of the relationship Between my God and His adoptive Earthly Dad is it's very powerful for me yeah I Appreciate this so we'll move over here Over here one more step all right I'm taking you now to the Tabernacle

Oh it's not up here in the middle no Good eye it used to be before the Renovation again with the Vatican second Vatican Council one of the goals was to Have a separate area for the Tabernacle Which contains the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist which is Inside that's why there's a candle up Above because it means that there is Eucharist inside of that cabinet where We to open it is there ever not Very very very rarely okay yeah so this The idea was to put it in a special Chapel for its own prayer and worship Apart from the mass so removed it from The rare dose which was marbled over Where this had been and these angels That are here on these statues at one Time flanked that altar as well it's Pretty cool because this is the part you Took off of the raridos which is not Inaccessible but that's I mean that's Back there quite a ways you've got to go Into the fancy area right this you can Touch you can touch and so now this is Down in the midst of people where that Has meaning he's he's here Among Us yes He's approachable and he's right here You know what else jumps out to me about This what's that you got that that quad Reform French symbol everywhere else but Here here we have the triform yes the Trinity yes so good eye good catch okay Yes yes

Since Vatican II though have all Catholic churches moved the Tabernacle Down from the sanctuary to the best of Their ability now there are some Who are choosing on their own to put Them back they get in trouble they get Like a letter or something about that no They don't get it you don't get written Up no the pope does not send them an Email and say what gotcha no Um but um because there was something That had always been traditional That some pastors are going back to Putting it back into the center So far as I know nobody has really come Down on them by and large it's for the Good of the people okay it's every Parish is unique and has its own Dynamic And I think in the large picture it's Better to honor the people where they Are and what they need rather than Rubber stamp it and say I said it has to Go over there John the 23rd had this Tender heart when he did the second Vatican Council he wanted much like Francis today to include people and make Everything more accessible yeah and Those papal impulses that you were just Describing like You know enough about all of this that Resonates with my Protestant brain and Protestant heart that accessibility Aspect yes yes can we make our way back Over here certainly I have another

Question I'd like to ask you When I travel around and I look at Churches If I look long enough I end up coming Away feeling like all right here's why That church is there that Protestant Catholic Orthodox Anglican whatever okay Get it I see what you're doing and I Come Away with my own sense of this Seems to be the theme from their history Their story it seems to set a trajectory For their purpose their mission What would you say the point of this Church is what is it a monument to what Is the message of this church the Message of this church particularly of Late This church is very Very involved with social justice Um we have a huge service Ministry to The homeless in the St Louis area where We offer A service of acquiring for them State IDs Baptismal certificates this is all being Funded through the parish and through Grants and so forth and we have the People come and line up here on Tuesday Mornings Waiting to come in and get this and they Get sent from agencies throughout the Metro area that they will send him here Because we will do that for them to help Them get started on a better life that

They they can't get into a shelter they Can't get a job without these documents Children can't get into schools without Copies of their birth certificates but Yeah so we're able to get that so that's One of the things and then another area That we're working with right now is a Racial partnership so we work with Saint Alphonsus Rock which is just down the Street a few blocks I saw it yeah the Next big spider exactly okay designed by The way by the same architect so Thomas Walsh did that one as well but uh so We're partnering with them and another Area that we're working with is Shamefully Sadly but truthfully The abuse of slavery when St Louis Catholics moved here being them Archbishops priests whatever back in the 1700s and 1800s most in most cases they Brought slaves with them And this was never really talked about That they had slaves and it's now come To the surface so this is Getting to the bottom of this and Acknowledging Just as the pope went to Canada and Dealt with the indigenous people there For the atrocities there Saint Francis Xavier is working very Hard to work with this with the slavery Issue in the Catholic church and in our Case many of the slaves that came here

Came with the first Jesuits that came Here who came from Maryland where they Had slaves so they brought them with Them they were that's who built their Buildings that's who formed their land That's who you know fed them and they Didn't think that much of it I mean That's just the way things were in those Days but now in today's eyes looking out Realizing It was atrocious This dehumanized our fellow man and yet Many of them God loved them became Catholic I mean these were you know Slaves who were Catholics so this is What this church does and what it stands For and so and very much speaks to my Spirit so That's why I love it here Ruth this was Fantastic no matter how pretty you Thought that was you didn't get the full Experience it's just impossible to Capture Because these are spaces that are Designed by the greatest Minds in design Who are standing on the shoulders of the Greatest Minds in the history of design And when projects of this scale are Carried out you've got 40 50 60 70 years Of care and double and triple checking Put into everything that even further Accentuates the beauties that every Detail is just so on purpose it's This beautiful Fusion

Of things that are often held out as Being at odds today reason and faith on The the raw reason and science Natural Science side you've got Precision Engineering to make something like that Work but on the Artistry theology side You've got people who understand the History and the Creeds and the most Fundamental aspects of Christian thought And how to without putting the boot on The gas too heavy with flourish and Touch and Dynamics and color and sound Design make a space that takes what Could just be a raw engineering feat and Turns it into an artistic Marvel as well All of which is in service of Communicating the most basic Timeless Truths of Christian faith and so what You get then between the mid-1800s and Early 1900s in St Louis Missouri is a Church with French flourishes built in a Modern or Gothic Revival style that Acknowledges the floor plan common Throughout all kinds of different Threads of Christianity that depends on Architectural advancements from inside And outside of the church dating back as Far as a couple thousand years or even More with art throughout that Communicates the Timeless truths of Scripture and the Timeless agreed upon Theology among creedal Christians and it Also communicates an Impulse to get back Out there and and engage the life of the

Mind which is half of what Jesuits are Known for And engage that life of the mind and the Service of articulating Christ and his Kingdom to to people who don't know About it yet and that comes through in The stained glass and in the art so You're not just getting one thing here With one simple theme but at the same Time It's not a brand catastrophe where You're trying to cram together a bunch Of incongruent pieces and what you get Is an architectural disaster further What they set out to do and the reason They made the church and what the Original Mission of the church is it Sounds like it's a little bit different Than what it is now I mean I asked why Is it here and what does it do then Ruth Gave me very contemporary answers in Terms of what they're trying to Accomplish maybe that resonated with you Maybe it did not maybe you were hoping For more like a big picture Christ Kingdom God I assume that Ruth just Assumed that like obviously it's it's For God and His glory and all of that Stuff but what she hit is their primary Point of emphasis social justice urban Renewal helping out with programs IDs Things like that like basic community Service project kind of stuff I think that's a lot different than what

The people who first founded that church Would have said they were going for so It's interesting that this building that Is a giant story of History Has also seen a whole lot of its own History just since it's been completed For whatever it's been 100 years and Change since uh it was fully wrapped up Bottom line though this is a beautiful And compelling Church That I think tells the story of the Timelessness and the translatability of The gospel and I hope you get a chance To check it out for yourself at some Point I've had a couple of videos here of late And a bunch of podcast episodes of as Well that have been sponsored by Samaritan Ministries I'm really excited About that they've been a partner with Our family privately for a really long Time and for them to come here and say We like what you're doing with videos Like this could we be a part of one of Them that's a big deal Samaritan is a Community of Christians who help pay Each other's medical bills without the Use of insurance We have benefited hugely from this both In the giving and receiving side of it It just isn't corporate it doesn't have Any of that impersonal feel that is so Often present when you're going through The health care and then just the big

Personal stuff that often goes along With those moments in life it feels like You're a part of a community because you Are and it feels like literally you're Paying other people to help with their Medical bills and literally they're Paying down with your medical bills I Think there's genius in the Simplicity I Could go on a whole lengthy rant about The state of the world and you know Solving problems together versus Central Planning to solve problems and maybe You'd enjoy the rant maybe you wouldn't But philosophically I think this is brilliant I think it is A Constructive proposal For a way to address a problem that a Lot of people deal with and that is just The cost of Health Care and increasingly A sense that you don't have full Ownership over your health care you have To make some deals sometimes in terms of Access to the doctors the networks that You want to be a part of with Samaritan Where it's the community of Christians Who help pay each other's medical bills You don't get that Network or enrollment Period And there's you know you are in The driver's seat in terms of what you Do with health care for you and your Family and the cost is awesome it's 99 Bucks I wrote it down I don't remember Exactly 99 bucks for an individual is

The starting number in 263 bucks this is A starting number for a family of three So I'm thinking for most people who I'm Having this conversation with that Number is going to be pretty compelling And I mean it's an incredibly simple Concept that hopefully I've communicated A little bit here but if you want to Know more about it just go to their Crystal Clear really easy to follow Website it's Samaritanministries.org Tmbh and I appreciate that last part Because then they know that I sent you And that helps with everything but I Think you'll get a much clearer sense in Any questions you might have will be Quickly answered if you go and check That out it's been a great fit for my Family might be a great fit for yours as Well again it's Samaritan ministries.org Tmbh Saint Francis Xavier College Church in St Louis Missouri is beautiful it's Awesome I hope you check it out whether You ever have a chance to physically in Person or not hopefully this gave you a Sense of what it would be like to go There and hopefully through the Conversation with Ruth you also got a Chance to feel like you were sampling a Whole bunch of the grand history of Christian faith from around the world in One single space thanks for hanging out

With me I really do appreciate it now Matt let's do this again soon

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