Saint John Bosco Catholic Church

I’m a sucker for a good Midcentury Modern church, especially if it’s really over-the-top. So when I learned that the guy who did the St. Joseph Hospital chapel (Edo J. Belli) had done a church on the west side, I knew I had to pay a visit.

Saint John Bosco Church

Repetition carries the day in this boxy building, as concrete piers with exposed aggregate march along, rounded at the bottom to emphasize the lightness of the wall, and infilled with faceted glass windows.

Saint John Bosco Church - side door

The most inviting entry is on the side, surmounted by a stained glass Christ and finished with tiny golden-bronze polished tile. Its massive round shape calls to mind “portal” more than “door”. Within, a massive statue greets arriving worshipers.

Saint John Bosco Church - main foyer

Of course, the view back toward the door is impressive as well.

Saint John Bosco Church - side door

Within, the sanctuary is utterly plain, the only ornament being the stained glass itself, its sunset hues and marching rhythm. I did not get long to explore; the service started just moments after I arrived (though people kept coming. I never saw so many people show up late for church. Seriously, five minutes after the service had begun, they were still streaming in the doors.)

Saint John Bosco Church - sanctuary

Saint John Bosco Church - side aisle

I’m sad I couldn’t spend more time in the sanctuary, but it was still well worth the trip!


5 thoughts on “Saint John Bosco Catholic Church

  1. This is the ugliest church – Catholic or otherwise – I’ve ever seen. Completely out of place in that neighborhood or anywhere else. Thanks for posting photos of the interior, as I often wondered what horrors were hid inside. Doesn’t appear too bad.

  2. I guess I'm one of the few eccentrics to enjoy the architecture of this church, although I spent my childhood here. West of here but still in the neighborhood is a home on a side street by the same architect. Very distinctive.

  3. I grew up in this parish, went to it's Catholic school (which is now a public school last I heard), and made my communion & confirmation there. I was married in the church in 1982. Not much has changed there except the flooring. It was originally a royal blue carpet with spots of green dispersed throughout. None of that ceramic tile in the foyer vestibule was there. I always thought it was a beautiful church. Back in the day it was definitely the newest most renouned in the area. The Belli brothers built several homes in the neighborhood to the north of the church. One of the brother's personal residences is at the south east corner of Meade and Schubert. It too was definitely ahead of its time in the 60's. The original St. John Bosco church is across the street from the new one, and attached to the school.For years the school used the old church as a make shift gym and multi-purpose facility. The choir which was made up up students from the school practiced in the loft of the original church.

  4. I like it. People have such harsh words to say. Maybe it doesn’t suite everyone – sure, there are aspects of it I don’t care for, but I think it’s pretty neat.

  5. Some Thomists have argued that beauty, like truth and goodness, is a transcendental property of being, such that all things, to the extent they exist, are not only true and good but also beautiful.

    They were wrong.

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