Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Immaculate Conception Church & St. Raphael

From the Physicians' Clinic in Cedar Rapids perhaps the most interesting building in view is a church.  While eating lunch in the skywalk between rounds of our latest chess tournament, we speculated on its denomination.  
Our top guesses were Orthodox, Catholic, and Episcopalian.  I zoomed in on the sign with my camera, and Catholic it was.  We decided to walk over to see if the church was open.  I grasped the handle of one of the sturdy doors.  It opened, and we filed in.  Inside, the church was quiet and empty.
The original, much smaller, church was constructed in 1858 by a Father Gillespie.  In 1906, Irish Father Toomey came to Cedar Rapids after serving at St. Raphael's Cathedral in Dubuque.  He bought the land where the church now stands and raised $125,000 to build the current structure.
The stained glass windows are beautiful works of art depicting the life of Jesus and various Biblical characters.  As we finished our tour, a group came in for what looked like either a christening or, more likely, a christening rehearsal.  

Below I've included photos of St. Raphael's Cathedral, which we saw in Dubuque last summer. Unfortunately, it was locked.  The note on the door said to visit the parish to ask for a tour, but we were on our way to crash a wedding, and didn't have enough time (Priorities first!).

Similar posts: The Basilica of St. Francis XavierSt. Donatus and the Way of the Cross

Have you ever crashed a wedding, graduation, or similar event?
Can you guess denominations just by looking at church buildings?

"He who works with his hands is a laborer.  He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.  He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."   --St. Francis of Assissi

67 comments:

  1. i'm not good at assessing a church's denomination at all. :) glad you were able to go into the first one.

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    1. It can be pretty hard to figure out at times!

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  2. Beautiful building, Bethany. My guess is that it is Catholic. I am not Catholic myself, but here in Montreal, Quebec, there are more Catholic churches than any other denomination, and this looks Catholic to me. Oops, and I just saw your confirmation that it is indeed Catholic, so I was right. :)

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    1. The Catholic ones seem to be a lot more ornate than a lot of the Protestant ones around here.

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  3. It is absolutely gorgeous! I'm so glad you went inside. I love stained glass and these windows are so pretty. I went back and read your post about being a wedding crasher. I have never done that, but some people crashed my daughter's wedding reception years ago. It was very awkward, to say the least!

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    1. Believe me, we got out of there as fast as we could. I think we did sign the guest book on the way in though, so on their 50th anniversary they might look through their guest book and wonder who the Carsons were... There wasn't time to get rid of the evidence!

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  4. Great shots, Bethany! I love that quote from St. Francis of Assissi. I am not good at figuring out the denomination of a church...unless it's an Orthodox one. I was raised an Orthodox Christian and have been in many such churches throughout my life. And I continue to visit whenever we attend a baptism, wedding or funeral. Religious buildings are very fascinating; each one with its own unique history. And they are great subjects for photography!

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    1. Agreed. I don't think I've ever been in an Orthodox church; we were wondering if this one would be our first to visit, but there just don't seem to be very many around here.

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  5. That is a great old church, Bethany. The stained glass work is just beautiful. I love to see older churches inside and out. xo Diana

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    1. The people who designed those windows must have been real artists!

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  6. Sometimes you can guess a denomination by the building, but not always. This is a beautiful building!

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    1. I think I'm getting better at guessing some, but a lot of the Protestant churches are so near in design it would be just about impossible to tell.

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  7. The stained glass windows are beautiful in this church.
    Some great shots here, Bethany

    I have never crashed a wedding or anything else ...LOL

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  8. Some of the most beautiful churches in the world are Catholic...this one is exceptional....

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  9. Beautiful church Bethany! I love old churches with stained glass windows and high ceilings. Some of the loveliest I've seen are Catholic and it's always a joy if I can take a peek inside:)
    Blessings, Aimee
    PS: I use my camera zoom like binoculars too:)

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    1. A good zoom is handy to have around ;).

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  10. Beautiful architecture on both of these church buildings and the stained glass windows in the Immaculate Conception church building are amazing!

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  11. I'm hit & miss with guessing denominations correctly - but I love looking at churches & cathedrals. The beautiful windows, the charm & all their sacred beauty.

    Love the gorgeous windows in this one!
    XO

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  12. Hi Bethany,
    Beautiful church, and the windows I find really amazing, so beautiful.
    Best regards, Irma

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    1. There were several more windows--just posted the ones where the photos turned out best. All were neat to see.

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  13. The stained glass windows are gorgeous.

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  14. Based on what I see around here it certainly looks like a Catholic church. Tom The Backroads Trabeller

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  15. Love the inside. You can almost feel the peacefulness.

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  16. Bethany it looks like European one. Great

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    1. A lot of the Catholic churches in the area seem to have European-influenced architecture. Though I guess in a way our whole American culture is strongly influenced by Europe, since a lot of our ancestors are from Europe.

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  17. Handsome church, the Immaculate Conception Church. I'm impressed that it was open.

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  18. Hi Bethany, What an interesting question and I’m surprised, given that I love to photograph churches, that I’ve never given much thought to guessing a religion from the church’s architecture. It has definitely been in the mind, but not defined so clearly before. This will give me a new perspective on churches in the future. Don’t you find old churches fascinating? The amount of time spent on these buildings by the people who constructed them is, to me at least, pretty amazing. You pointed out the wonderful stained glass windows … Did you also notice the murals on the ceiling? Today, with all the equipment we have, it might not be so difficult to get those murals up, but back in the day … that took some time and serious effort! Reflecting back on churches I’ve visited … like this one you went into when no one was there … it always impresses me how just stepping inside can change my mood … Almost every time I can feel the passion those who built the place had for their spiritual life. Thank you for sharing another excellent post. John PS Loved your comment about Washington State’s selection of Official State Bird! :-)

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    1. It is amazing how they used to take years to build churches--and they did their best to make the buildings beautiful. In NE Iowa I noticed while travelling from one town to another, that it's almost like each town had a competition to see who could build the neatest Catholic church. One would have a slightly more impressive spire--another would have two spires, etc. People put a lot more intricate, artistic work into their projects than most people would be willing to do now.

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  19. Wow, they just don't make 'em like they used to! I love the architecture, and just look at those pews.. beautiful! Have a great day!

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    1. I should have checked to see if the pews were comfortable! They did make beautiful buildings back in the day.

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  20. Wow, what an impressive church! The stained glass is quite breathtaking.

    Happy day, my dear!

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  21. beautiful church and the inside is so beautiful too as are the stained glass windows.

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  22. Beautiful artists who made the stained glass window.

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  23. The stained glass is stunning! I've learned that many Eastern Orthodox buildings have similar architectural traits, but in general I can not guess a denomination from the building type. Thanks for sharing the photos, Bethany.

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  24. I'm glad you got to see the inside of the church- I love the stained glass windows. I can't really tell the big churches apart..or the small ones for that matter! :) I hope you won your tournament!

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    1. Thanks! I scored 2.5 out of 4 games--not great, especially considering I was only in Class B, but not a total wipe out either. :)

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  25. I've crashed places before--usually writing meetings, but sometimes not on purpose. Whoa, how could you tell the church is Catholic? I know you looked at it's architecture, but what specifics? I'm Catholic, and the only similarity that this church has to the one I go to are stained glass windows (which, in the photos you took, are very beautiful). :)

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Orthodox was my top guess, Catholic second...we had to take a look at the sign to find out for sure. A lot of the Protestant churches around here are either more plain or newer-looking than their Catholic counterparts...and it seems some of the Protestant churches have different-style crosses and windows. But I definitely don't have it down to an art. I'm far from having it all figured out.

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  26. Your wedding crashing comment sure made me chuckle!!!! Love the photos!! Love, Aunt Diane!!

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    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Aunt Diane! Always wonderful to hear from you! :)

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  27. it's a beautiful place!!! i don't see any of us as wedding crashers ;)

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  28. Beautiful blog dear,follow me and i follow you back!!!kiss

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  29. Old, ornate Catholic churches are always so pretty inside. I have a hard time guessing denominations right down to the specific one. I probably would have guessed the few that you did when you first saw this church. I was told by one of my high school teachers that Catholic churches are always built so that when you look down at them they are in the shape of a cross.

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  30. That is a very beautiful church and I've always loved stained glass windows. I've never crashed a wedding or any other event. I actually would never have even thought to just walk into that church when there wasn't a service in progress. It's good that you did, because the inside was so pretty. I guess I'm a big chicken... :)

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    1. Sounds like you know how to stay out of trouble, Dee! There are various churches that leave their doors unlocked--probably so anyone can feel welcome to come and worship at any time. This church had candles burning, so it's probably good if people stop in once in a while to make sure everything's ok. Another reason for it being unlocked though could have been the church was expecting the people who came in as we left for the christening [rehearsal?].

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  31. I love buildings and this old church looks extremely beautiful! I would love to get inside of the church and stay for a little bit and fill my heart with peace :) Thank you for this post my dear! Liuba x

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    1. It was definitely a nice place to tour during the break from the tournament. Thanks for visiting, Liuba!

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  32. Hi Bethany,
    I love the stain glass windows - very pretty.
    I am always intrigued by them and I can spend hours looking them and I have.
    My wife is a very patient person :)

    Have a Beautiful Day!
    Peace :)

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    1. Families of bloggers are special! I'm always grateful to my family for their patience while I take photos! Have a great day as well!

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  33. I love visiting churches as well, where I live most of the churches date back to the early 1500's I think it was when the spanish came to colonize the area, we don't have any orthodox or protestant churches here but, I sure would love to visit one someday. The photos are amazing and the church is truly beautiful.

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