by Sandy Kirby Quandt
Looks can be deceiving. Pilot and I saw that truth in action that during a recent trip to the Texas Hill Country, where we visited several churches built by Czech settlers between the late 1800s and early 1900s. The fascinating thing about these churches is their artistically-crafted painted interiors. From their unassuming exteriors you wouldn’t know how impressive the interiors were until you stepped inside.
While there are individual differences in each church, they basically have the same structure of massive altars in the front of the building, balcony with organ at the back, and Stations of the Cross along the sides of the sanctuary.
The present structure of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, or the “pink” church, is the third church built on the property.
The first church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1909, the second church burned to the ground eight years later. The structure that stands today was completed in 1919.
This current church is much simpler than the previous two churches. A glance behind the ornate altar facade proves this point. Yet, the church is still very pretty. Remember, these settlers were farmers and didn’t have a lot of money to put into building programs. Especially in such a rapid succession of time.
The hand-carved altars in St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption are painted white and gilded in gold. The painted interior is bright turquoise, emerald greens and blues intended to create a sense of the Garden of Eden.
In the Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin Catholic Church the architect relied on decorative painting to create the illusion of Gothic groin vaults and joints.The columns are painted to look like marble.
Saints Cyril and Methodius was also destroyed in the same 1909 hurricane that destroyed St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. $5,571.90 was raised to build the new church. Quite a bit of money and sacrifice at the time, wouldn’t you say?
Again, paint techniques were effectively used to create the illusion of marble and vaulted ceilings.
So, what does this have to do with anything?
Well. Perseverance for one thing, as in the case of the congregation who rebuilt their church three separate times and never gave up; even though they had to scale back their initial plan.
Sacrifice of the members of the churches that were destroyed to stick together, join their resources, and rebuild to the best of their abilities instead of scattering to other churches, for another thing.
And finally, just as with these Painted Churches, while we may not seem like much from the outside when people look at us, looks can be deceiving.
Sure. Looks can be deceiving, but God created us, and he knows what’s going on in the interior he created with utmost care and detail for his glory. God knows our heart.
Have you ever been deceived by outward looks?
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Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Psalm 51:10-12 (TLB)
I wish you well.
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I think we’ve all been deceived. It’s an awful feeling once you realize what has happened. But God never deceives us. Great post and beautiful church.
Thanks, Joanna. I love how you put it, “But God never deceives us.” How very very true, and aren’t we glad?