Plainfield – Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

By | January 21, 2012

Newark (Vailsburg) – Sacred Heart

By | August 9, 2011

This massive gray church, with its majestic towers and entranceway, was built on a scale usually associated with cathedrals. The construction was by William H. Fissell.

It is an adaptation of the Baroque style simplified with Art Deco details, typical of the 1920s when it was designed and constructed. In some accouints, the style is called “Italian Renaissance.” When opened in 1929, it was the largest parish church in the United States, seating 2,480. The preacher at the dedication ceremony was Rev. Fulton J. Sheen.

The muted gray interior, designed by John Earley, is illuminated with spectacular stained glass. According to parish accounts, they were designed by and/or fabricated by local artists Charles hodge and John Farrell. In the nave, Old Testament heroes face saints of the New Covenant. Prominent are Saint Patrick and St. Boniface, testifying to the Irish and German heritage of the congregation that built this edifice.

The striking rose window features a crucifix that divides it in a three dimensional manner. The soft glow in this window is produced by alabaster, not glass.

The two transept balconies are an unusual feature in this churhc, and add to its distinctiveness. Much of the decoration utilizes what is called “applied mosaic,” a style popular in the 1920s and 1930s. It can be seen in the figures in the apse, done in Art Deco style. This method used common stone rahter than glass or marble and produced a soft effect.

The Baroque main altar is rare Algerian onyx decorated with little pineapples. Details in the church include pietrasanta marble. The main altar and the side altars were made by Daprato of Chicago. A lengthy Cararra marble and bronze altar rail depicts the faces of the Twelve Apostles, whose features are copied from those in the “Last Supper” by Leonardo DaVinci. On either side of the altar are twin raised pulpits, a rarely seen feature. Flanking the main altar are eight-foot high Art Deco bronze urns for flowers. They were manufactured in Dublin in the early 1950s.