Monday, January 17, 2011

St. Monica's Mosaics

I hiked up to St. Monica's Catholic Church in Santa Monica (of course) because I'd seen pictures like the one at right. I assumed the golden backgrounds and robed figures were mosaics, much like those by Millard Sheets in the Precious Blood Catholic Church, Los Angeles.

Oops...they are murals. I had to get up verrrrry close to be sure. That does not detract from their beauty at all, but it almost left me without an entry for mosaic Monday...until I lowered my gaze to see what was right in front of me: Mosaics!

A plethora of mosaics!

Here's a baptismal font of mosaic panels, just to the right of the altar. Click on it for a larger view; it's gorgeous. I don't know if that's a marble inlay, or just a composite stone. While searching their website for information on the mosaics (I found none), I learned that St. Monica's has a clown ministry. Yes, a clown ministry, or as they put it, "a commited cadre of imaginative spirits" that shows to others "the love and joy of Jesus Christ - through the art of clowning."

I could never make that up. Go to their page.

To the right of that, mosaics decorate the little side altars. There might be other proper names for them; I don't know.

I love the little mother-of-pearl shamrocks that ornament the mostly-gold mosaic framing the side altar. At the corners are a palm design, and above the frame a fleur-de-lis, again in gold.

But wait, there's more! Above the fleur-de-lis, as you can just see on the far right, is another fancy border of crosses in circles, a design that looks very eastern--maybe Coptic. That design is cut off on the left through the fault of the photographer. Boo.

Even outside in the lobby...all right, I'll look it up. In the Narthex, there are a couple of saint statues that stand on plinths decorated with mosaics. Here's one, which may be St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. My only reason for the guess is that the church is named after St. Monica so we might expect her statue to be welcoming us. The image reminds me of statues I've seen of St. Rita, because she's holding roses.

I sure wish I'd moved that folding chair before taking this picture.


Anonymous said...

The mosaic work on the pictured baptismal font was done by Carnevale & Lohr, Inc. as a remodel effort after the 1994 earthquake destroyed much of the church. The mosaic work on the pictured altar was installed by the hilgartner marble company in the 1920's for more information on the St Monica project get ahold of David Carnevale at C&L based in Bell Gardens California.

Vix said...

Thank you for this information--I think the Carnevale company was also involved in some way with restoring the Sheets mosaic on the Chase Bank in Palos Verdes. This is all good to know!