National Shrine of the Little Flower
- See also the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower in San Antonio, Texas
National Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church in Royal Oak, Michigan is a well known Roman Catholic church and National Shrine executed in the lavish zig-zag Art Deco style. The structure was completed in two stages between 1931 and 1936, and remains the third largest building in Royal Oak. The sanctuary stands at 1200 West Twelve Mile Road at the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and is a parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Construction was funded by the proceeds of the radio ministry of the controversial Father Charles Coughlin who broadcast from the tower during the 1930s.
Father Coughlin was an early supporter of the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt before becoming one of Roosevelt's harshest critics, issuing antisemitic commentaries and supporting some policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The American public responded with "contributions which have flooded into his bank account as a result of these talks runs into thousands of dollars weekly.
Named in honor of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux (who was also known as the Little Flower), the church was first built in 1926 in a largely Protestant area. Two weeks after it opened, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in front of the church. The original wood structure was destroyed by a fire March 17, 1936. Construction of the new building started in 1931 and ended in 1936. Its completion was spurred by the destruction of the old structure and it employed large amounts of copper and stone to execute the designs of architect Henry J. McGill, of the New York firm of McGill and Hamlin.
A dramatic limestone Art Deco tower called the Charity Crucifixion Tower, completed in 1931, features integrated figural sculptures by Rene Paul Chambellan, including a large figure of Christ on the cross, 28 ft (8.5 m) high on the Woodward Avenue façade. It was built as a response to the Ku Klux Klan as a "cross they could not burn". The sides and rear feature windows inside the crucifix which can be lit from within. At the upper corners of the tower are symbols of the Four Evangelists. Carved below the feet of the figure of Christ are the Seven Last Words. Just below them is a doorway with "Charity" and "Christ Crucified" carved above it. On the sides of the doorframe are depictions of items associated with the Passion. The doorway leads to a small balcony which can serve as a pulpit. On the front are carved depictions the Archangels Jophiel, Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel. The pulpit is flanked by depictions of John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary to the left and a Roman Centurion holding a spear and Mary Magdalene on the right. Across the terrace facing the crucifix a depiction of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is carved into the surrounding wall. This sculpture is also by Chambellan.
Behind the tower are doors leading to large chapel that connect the tower with the main sanctuary. The altar of the chapel is within the base of the tower. The octagonal nave seats three thousand on two levels, with the altar in the center. The main building is granite and limestone, with exterior and elaborate interior sculptural work by Corrado Parducci, including a lectern and Stations of the Cross, and hand-painted murals by Beatrice Wilczynski. The stunning octagon-shaped granite baptismal font was designed by renowned liturgical artists Robert Rambusch and Mario Agustin Locsin y Montenegro.
In 1998, the United States Bishops' Conference declared the site a National Shrine, one of only five in the country according to the church's web site.
- Lawrence, John Shelton; Jewett, Robert (1 June 2002). The Myth of the American Superhero. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. pp. 130–132. ISBN 978-0802825735.
- the Detroit Free Press, March 29, 1933, quoted in Louis B Ward's Father Charles E. Coughlin: An Authorized Biography, Tower Publications Incorporated, Detroit, Michigan, 1933, p. 207
- Marcus, Sheldon (1973). Father Coughlin: The tumultuous Life of the Priest of the Little Flower. Little, Brown, and Company. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0316545969.
- Tull, Charles J. (1965). Father Coughlin and the New Deal. Syracuse University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0815600435.
- Shannon, William V. (1989) . The American Irish: a political and social portrait. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-87023-689-1. OCLC 19670135.
- Hutting, Albert M. (1998) . Shrine of the Little Flower. Royal Oak, MI: Radio League of the Little Flower. OCLC 32783964.
- "Old Coughlin Church is Destroyed by Fire". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Associated Press. 18 March 1936. Retrieved 2011-05-26.
- Levin, Doron P. (25 May 1992). "Royal Oak Journal; Bitter Memories of Anti-Semitism Live On in Michigan Parish". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- Patterson, Jim; Perrone, Bob (July 2007). "Rene Paul Chambellan - One of Art Deco's Greatest Sculptors". Louisville Art Deco. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
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