ST. JOSEPH ABBEY
Maspterplan and Church Renovation
Saint Benedict, Louisiana

The purpose of this abbey church renovation was to reemphasize through design the monastic identity of the Benedictine community of monks who make this site their home. The key design issue was to enhance the placement of the monastic choir stalls used for the liturgy of the hours-while not eclipsing the altar which is used for the Eucharistic liturgy. The design solution was to bring the monastic choir stalls forward and place them at the transept crossing under the dome while repositioning the altar toward the apse of the church.

New surface finishes and furnishings and the use of light have been emphasized to impart a sense of the timelessness and simplicity of the 1500 year-old Benedictine tradition.

The original cement and terrazzo floor has been replaced by quarry tile with granite borders. The careful use of light has transformed the church. The dark windows have been replaced with new “reamy” art glass windows. The cypress trusses of the ceiling have been sandblasted to impart a warm golden hue. New lighting with electronic controls has been artfully installed to orchestrate the illumination of the church. The walls of the church contain significant murals painted by Gregory DeWitt. These have been cleaned and restored through fine art conservation