Church Architecture

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church Architecture

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament’s church building in Harrisburg, PA illustrates unique English Gothic architecture and rich details that point to medieval and European influences.


Text taken from “Church of St. Mary’s, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Harrisburg,” OLBS Parish Archives. Titles have been added for organizational purposes.

Church Style and Architecture


The style of the Church is English Gothic. The walls are of Foxcroft Stone set in long range work and the trim and tracery of Indiana Lime Stone. The roof is Brittany Shingle Tile in rich warm tones of dull reds and sage browns with an intermingling of light dull blues and variegated dull greens.

As we approach the main doorway by an easy flight of stone steps, we see several graceful, specially designed standards which will light the Church approaches well, and pleasantly floodlight the front of the building at night.

Terraces also lead up to the main doorway from N. Third Street with a side approach off Woodbine Street. The main doorway is crowned with four shields and a cross flower representing the scenes taken from the life of the Blessed Virgin. The doorway is flanked by canopied niches with contain carved stone statues of St. Peter and St. Paul while over the center of the doorway is found a carved stone statue of Our Lady.

The Tower


The tower, 24 feet square, has an octagonal turret containing a stairway which leads to the choir. Four large mullion windows form the crowing feature of the bell stage at the top of the tower. The bells are rung by an electrical mechanism located in the Priest’s Sacristy.

Church Interior


The interior has six stone trimmed arches on the South side and five arches on the North side occurring between the Nave and the side aisles. These arches are continued with two lofty stone arches on each side of the transepts. The sanctuary arch is likewise of stone and from its center is suspended a beautiful Rood executed in carved oak, polychromed, imported from Europe.

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

Sanctuary


The Sanctuary which is 24 feet wide by 33 feet deep is surrounded on three sides by stone arches, four on each side. Stone arches lead to the Lady Chapel and the Chapel of St. Joseph. But let us go in. As we enter the Church of St. Mary’s, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, we are filled with a positive and sincere realization of being in a Church. It would be a mistake to say that this consciousness is caused by the stained glass or by the decoration. In truth the effect is the result of a combination of carefully chosen and beautifully executed treatments; the culmination of much effort and untiring work.

OLBS Mural

At once, our attention is attracted to the richest part of the interior, the Sanctuary. On its pleasantly toned walls to soften them somewhat and to serve as a background for the beautiful furnishings, particularly the Altar, is a fine Gothic vine pattern into which are woven the emblems of the four Evangelists and Angels, accentuated above and on either side of the Altar with two pictures from the life of Christ. The tonal value is that of a lovely old Gothic tapestry whose colors, mellowed by the years, blend pleasantly with the background. Care was taken to keep the mural decorations and symbols of the Passion of Our Lord in the general colors of the background in order that they would, in no way, compete with the high Altar or the ceremonies performed thereon.

Altar


Here, in a Sanctuary of pleasant proportions, we see the Altar. In silhouette, mass, and detail, it is most beautiful. Truly it is the focal point, the center of all. The Altar is of the baldachin type, rather unusual for a Gothic Church but admittedly most successful here. The steps, Altar and Columns are of the finest Italian marbles, which, like those selected for the side Altars, are chosen for their strong individuality and the great decorative qualities. The risers and treads are a beautiful Macchia Vecchia and Botticino, with all structural parts of the Altar of Botticino. While the bases and caps of the baldachin are of a beautifully caved white Cararra, the columns are a brecciated marble of white and soft purples. The Altar front has a gorgeous inlay of Florentine marble mosaic representing in graceful design the grape.

Baldachin


The baldachin, which rests on beautifully carved Carrara marble caps, is entirely of carved oak. The four faces are identical in design and richness of detail. The canopy is strengthened at the corners with strong architectural features, relieved on the larger surfaces with vertical bands of carved detail and enriched at the top and at the lantern with beautifully designed and carved cresting. The center of each face is further decorated with the monogram OLBS. This Altar is one of the few in this country which satisfies all rubrical requirements of the church. It is the personal gift of Mrs. David E. Tracy in memory of her husband David E. Tracy.

Tabernacle


The high Altar tabernacle of beaten bronze plated with pure gold is decorated with engraved and repoussed symbolic detail. The doors are further embellished with four enameled plaques representing the Four Evangelists. The tabernacle has a steel safe and gilded cedar wood lining. The top of the tabernacle is removable to facilitate exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The large carved high Altar crucifix which hangs over and in back of the tabernacle, silhouettes pleasantly against the hangings, which, together with the marble Altar and the carved canopy, form a very effective and beautiful setting for the ceremonies celebrated at the Altar. A special light is located in the canopy to insure sufficient reading light on the mensa.