Church Madness: Theological 32

The second round of voting for the most beautiful church in America begins now!

Church Madness 2016

IntroductionMidwest Bracket (March 17)East Bracket (March 18)South Bracket (March 19)West Bracket (March 20) · Sacred 64 Results (March 28) · Theological 32 (March 29) · Theological 32 Results (April 4)

Who will advance to the Stunning 16? You decide! (Note: Voting has now closed.)

I am not including pictures in the later rounds because (a) it takes forever and (b) you’ve already seen these churches. If you’re just joining us, links to earlier posts are above. Factoids about churches are added for your reading enjoyment.


Matchup I

Cathedral Basilica of St. Paul (Minn.)

St. John Cantius (Chicago, Ill.)
This historic parish in downtown Chicago was on the verge of closure until it was restored in the 1990s and 2000s. The restoration had to begin with the removal of several tons of pigeon poop from the attic. Today, the parish is thriving. It also happens to be where I got engaged.

Matchup II — The Rust Belt Rumble™

St. James Church (Lakewood, Oh.)
This church was closed by the diocese in 2010, but parishioners sent an appeal to the Vatican and it was reopened in 2012.

Holy Rosary Cathedral (Toledo, Oh.)

Matchup III

Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame (Ind.)

Basilica of St. John (Des Moines, Ia.)
The architects of this church also built the National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

Matchup IV

Basilica of St. Josaphat (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (Mo.)


Matchup I — Empire State Showdown

Cathedral of St. Patrick (New York City)

Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica (Lackawanna, N.Y.)
At the time of construction (1926), the large dome atop this shrine was second in size only to the dome of the U.S. Capitol.

Matchup II

Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul (Philadelphia, Penna.)

Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Seton Hall University (South Orange, N.J.)
This chapel was restored in 2008. Granda Liturgical Arts oversaw the project and was responsible for the liturgical design and custom furnishings, including the altar, tabernacle, and ambo.

Matchup III

St. Lucy Church (Newark, N.J.)

Cathedral of St. Matthew (Washington, D.C.)

Matchup IV

Church of St. John, the Guardian of Our Lady (Clinton, Mass.)

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Upper church (D.C.)


Matchup I

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Mobile, Ala.)

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Savannah, Ga.)

Matchup II

Immaculate Conception Church (New Orleans, La.)

Sacred Heart Church (Galveston)

Matchup III — The Convent Classic

Chapel of St. Cecilia at Nashville Dominican motherhouse (Nashville, Tenn.)
Granda Liturgical Arts was responsible for the sanctuary design of this chapel, completed in 2005. Granda designed and fabricated the custom sanctuary furnishings.

Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery (Hanceville, Ala.)
This monastery was founded by Mother Angelica, who also founded EWTN. Granda Liturgical Arts designed this shrine (as well as the crypt chapel at the monastery) and fabricated all the furnishings — yes, even the gold altarpiece and everything else you see in pictures — according to the specifications of Mother Angelica. (Note: in the time between drafting this post and its publication, Mother Angelica has died. Please pray for the heavenly repose of her soul.)

Matchup IV

Cathedral of St. Stephen (Owensboro, Ky.)
This cathedral completed a restoration in 2012. Its liturgical design and furnishings were completed by Granda Liturgical Arts.

Basilica of St. Mary (Natchez, Miss.)


Matchup I

Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano (Cal.)
The magnificent reredos is 44 feet tall, 29 feet wide, and weighs 16 tons. The gold leaf you see was applied entirely by hand. It was completed in only 14 months, and is connected to steel beams that project 14 feet underground to secure it against earthquakes. It was completed by — you guessed it — Granda Liturgical Arts. To see more photos and learn about this incredible project, click here.

St. Benedict Church (Captain Cook, Hi.)

Matchup II — Marian Matchup

St. Mary Church (Mount Angel, Ore.)

St. Mary in the Mountains (Virginia City, Nev.)

Matchup III

Chapel at Brophy Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Holy Ghost Church (Denver, Colo.)

Matchup IV

Cathedral of the Madeleine (Salt Lake City, Ut.)

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Cal.)
Granda Liturgical Arts collaborated with esteemed architect Duncan Stroik on this project. The tabernacle, altar, and imposing bronze baldachino were created in Granda’s studios and shipped to California. The chapel was dedicated in 2009.