Sunday, February 20, 2011

thirty-seventh visit: Feb 20th 2011 Byzantine Catholicism (Orthodoxy)

8:30am sunday
St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church

1720 Jane Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203
south side flats

Please see post: thirty-ninth visit Feb 20 2011 for more

It began with a desire to personally commemorate Andy Warhol's life (d. Feb 22, 1987), by attending his church. A member of the Door of Hope (21st visit) had told me that this was his family's choice place of worship. But I come to question this after arriving, when I learn that this particular congregation had moved to this building in 1958, well after Andy had moved to NYC. Could she have been referring to the building only, and not the people? Commonly, things are complicated that way in this city. Regardless, it still doesn't seem right to me. Some art historians and critics claim that a visit to Andy Warhol's church leaves one to wonder if he was not influenced by its interior: the repetition of portrait-like images of saints in its elaborate icon screen echos the image-repetition in Warhol's screen print portraits of celebrities. But here this notion is not as apparent as I had expected.

No loss, of course. The building is beautiful and I enjoy the quiet time. (Yes: that is a non-electric chandelier pictured above, fire-powered with real candles—the only known to still be in use in a Byzantine Church in the US.) After the service a young worshiper and her mother asks about my dress. Father Schaefer overhears me telling them about gatherings, just chatting about the project in general, mentioning nothing about my quest for the Warhol church. He offers: "Well if you'd like a double header, you could follow me to my next gig. Just five minutes away."
He continues, "It's the church where Andy Warhol was baptised." Bingo. Wrong church, right priest. And I am on my way.

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