I put a little post on Facebook earlier today listing my fifteen favorite churches and said I’d explain why.
So here they are:
- The Abbey Church of Mont St Michel – I used to go there on retreat when I lived on the Isle of Wight. It is not only a magnificent monument to the glory of the Middle Ages, but the angels still dwell there. When I was on retreat we lived in the monastic quarters right at the top of the island and had access to the church when the tourists weren’t there. Bliss.
- . The Abbey Church of Quarr, Isle of Wight, England – One of my favorite monastic retreats. The architecture is unusual, but stunning in its simplicity. The monks are conservative and keep the life despite falling numbers. This is also where we were received into the Catholic Church in February 1995.
- Blackfriars Chapel, Oxford, England – a little gem tucked in among the Dominican friary on St Giles just a few doors down from Lewis’ pub the Eagle and Child.
- St Peter’s Church, Bexhill on Sea, England – the ancient Anglican church where I first served as an Anglican priest and met my wife and where we were married
- New College Chapel, Oxford, England – Like Blackfriars, a hidden treasure in Oxford. A medieval cloister behind a wall, a beautiful Gothic chapel all tucked down a side street. Like all the best things in life it is hidden but worth finding.
- St Mary’s Church, Greenville, South Carolina, USA – Where I first served as a Catholic priest and where I was ordained.
- Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Greenville, South Carolina, USA – my parish
- The Slipper Chapel, Walsingham, England – the Catholic shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham. The Anglican shrine is part of that favorite because it was there that I first met OL Walsingham
- Basilica de Sacre Coer, Paris, France – I was just out of high school when I made my first trip to Europe. We went as tourists to Paris and on a summer night I entered a Catholic Church for the first time. Eucharistic Adoration was there and I didn’t know what it was, but I remember that I knew it was holy and knelt to pray.
- Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy. – hard to pick just one church in Rome, but this one is a favorite because not only is Catherine of Siena there and Fra Angelico, but also a monument to Robert Wilberforce–son of the great social reformer–an Anglican priest who converted to Rome and died in Rome while studying to be ordained.
- St Michael’s Church, East Coker, Somerset, England – Where T.S.Eliot’s ashes are interred and the source of the second of his Four Quartets.
- SS Mary and Alphege, Bath, England – a perfect small Romanesque church in a suburb of Bath. Built by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and inspired by St Mary Cosmedin in Rome.
- Abbazia St Antimo, Tuscany, Italy – Like SS Mary and Alphege, an inspiration for the new Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville.
- Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Turin, Italy – Because we saw the Shroud of Turin there in 2015–and I would go again.
- Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Greenville, South Carolina. – a little stone former Episcopal Church in Greenville where I was baptized and confirmed as an Anglican and heard the call to be a priest.
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St. Mary’s in New Haven, CT is magnificent.