A House for God or a Home for His People? The Church-Building Activity of Domus Dei in the Belgian Archbishopric (1952-82)
|Published in:||Architectural History, 2013, v. 56|
After the Second World War, economic development across Western Europe resulted in the spectacular transformation of cities into large and densely populated urban agglomerations. Although the underlying driving force of demographic change had already become apparent in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, it now manifested itself on an unprecedented scale and at an increasing speed. In most Western European countries the Roman Catholic Church's leadership responded to this with massive church-building campaigns, suggesting that it viewed architecture as a critical means by which to re-establish a religious presence within these urban agglomerations. To this end, many dioceses established administrative structures dedicated to the planning, financing and designing of religious infrastructure.
These bodies have been little studied hitherto, but this article argues that they played an instrumental role in the post-war Catholic revival, by establishing a dense pastoral network within the newly urbanized areas. Moreover, they fostered a new culture of ecclesiastical patronage, as the scale and urgency of the task required new operational and managerial structures for building, fund-raising and mobilizing congregations to support this massive undertaking.
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