Visible from the PATH terminal in Journal Square, St. John’s Church, begun in 1892 and completed in 1897, is a massive granite structure, built in the Romanesque style, whose somber exterior belies its lavish and glittering interior. Its interior is reminiscent of Byzantine architecture. If you believe that the tower is two-toned, you are correct. The original tower, 75 feet high with a flat top, was increased to 150 feet in 1925.
The mosaics cover 5,488 square feet . The eye in one figure has 16 “tesserae,” or pieces of mosaic. Fusing pure gold leaf between two pieces of glass makes the gold tesserae. Only four churches in the United States, including the National Shrine of the immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, and the Cathedral of St. Louis surpass St. John’s in its quantity of mosaics but, arguably, not in its quality. The mosaics were executed in Venice under the direction of Victor Zucchi of the Payne Studios. While the mosaics give the church a Byzantine feeling, the subjects are copied from Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces.
The semicircular apse is covered with mosaics from floor to dome. Above the main altar is a reproduction of Raphael’s “La Disputa del Sacramento,” depicting a discussion of theologians on the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The original mural painted by Raphael in the Vatican is painted on a flat wall. Zucchi had the difficult problem not only of copying, but also of readjusting the perspective of the composition so that the curve of the wall would not give a distorted appearance. Above the theologians are the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, and St. John the Baptist. Among the theologians are the Doctors of the Latin Church: Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great.
Above the wainscot is a band of mosaic ornament with the coats of arms of the bishops who served from the diocese of NEwark was founded in 1853 up to 1934. Above the coats of arms are mosaic portraits of ten saitns: Lawrence, Alphonsus Liguori, Anthony, Patrick, Ann, Veronica, Francis of Assisi, Rose of Lima, Charles Borromeo, and Aloysius.
The mosaic in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin is a reproduction of the Spanish painter Murillo’s “The immaculate Conception.” Gonippo Raggi designed the mosaic Stations of the Cross, quite different in style from the other mosaics. This is but a short account of the mosaics of St. John’s/
The columns are pink granite and the altar is white Cararra marble decorated with onyx. The capitals are of Romanesque design. The chandeliers, by Rambusch, are of Byzantine inspiration. The original pews are of magnificent carved oak. The stained glass, installed in 1895, is by Franz Meyer of Munich.
For additional pictures see: http://www.behance.net/gallery/ST-John-the-Baptist-Church-Jersey-City/212515
About The Building
- George Pallisser
- John T. Rowland, Jr.
Fabricator(s) of Windows
- Franz Meyer
Notable Works of Art
- Its magnificent mosaics, executed in Venice under the direction of Victor Zucchi, cover 5,488 square feet, and cover the apse from floor to dome. They include a reproduction of Raphael's "La Disputa del Sacramento."
Current Status: In use
Year Opened: 1897