My six and a half years at the Pontifical College Josephinum was the best and worst time of my life. Too young, ignorant and naive to know what happened to the Church, but old enough to start realizing something was amiss, my journey toward traditional Catholicism started there. Thus, there’s still a soft spot in my heart for the old alma mater, even though distance, both physical and intellectual/spiritual, has kept us apart over these past fifteen years.
I was in attendance in 1989 when an iconoclastic wind swept through the Josephinum, carrying with it much that was noble and beautiful. The white-washing of the main chapel was the first of many revelations in my seminary career that something was terribly amiss in the Catholic Church. I remember staring at the three arches in what was left of the sanctuary shortly after the wreck-o-vation, and pleading with my friend, “certainly they aren’t going to leave it like that, are they?” Msgr. Fete, the master vandal whose own life soon became the reality for which his chapel was the allegory, when he was done with his destruction, left to us nothing more but a desolate windswept house.
However, a different wind, it would seem, is blowing through the Josephinum. There has been a rather dramatic change in the main chapel, which prefigures, I understand, even greater aesthetic changes. To give you an idea of the scope and nature of the change, here is a picture of St. Turibius chapel, post-Msgr. Fete:
This picture really doesn't do justice to what it was like back in 1990, nor does it do justice to the tiny black cube of an altar. Back then there weren't even statues.
Now, this is the new altar just recently consecrated:
Particularly, notice that in the depiction of the Last Supper, Our Blessed Lord distributes the Eucharist on the tongue of the kneeling St. John:
The "Benedictine" arrangement, a common feature of the "Reform of the Reform" has been embraced:
St. Turibius still appears cold and barren, and those awful unfinished looking arches are still back there looming like a skeleton that is belief without faith. However, the new altar is a mile long leap in the right direction, and bodes well for the future. Further renovations of the chapel are being planned, and hopefully these will include a full restoration of the late Gothic revival style mural, by Gerhard Lamers, that once occupied the wall of the sanctuary. (Of course, that would mean those arches will have to go!!)
While the Josephinum still doesn't offer a regular practicum for the usus antiquior, the Traditional Latin Mass was recently offered there. We should pray that the new rector, Rev. James A. Wehner, will soon comply with the Holy Father’s wishes by ensuring his seminarians are prepared to meet the needs of those Catholics attached to the Traditional Latin Mass.
Please write him to encourage him to do just that, and to thank him for the new altar in the main chapel.
Rev. James A. Wehner
7625 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43235
Also, please offer a rosary for all the seminarians at the PCJ.