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St. Jean-Baptiste Church

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1925–1927, Ernest Cormier. 68 Slater St.

The yellow brick exterior of this church, with an attached campanile to one side and well to the rear, derives from late medieval brick Italian churches. Although the outside is skillfully handled, as might be expected of Quebec's leading designer during the early twentieth century, it is the interior—among the grand Catholic churches in the state—that especially impresses. Giant engaged arcades contain the space and provide frames for the stained glass windows. Clusters of pilasters mark the corners and frame the altar, which is set in a deep apse ringed by four more full-round columns, these supporting an entablature instead of arching. The tawny hues of the nave, complemented by gray scagliola column shafts, shift to white at the entrance to the apse, then to color again—scarlet, blue, and gold—at the altar (which reform theology has moved forward, closer to the congregation). Binding this wall of giant columns and pilasters is a frieze beneath a paneled ceiling with an encircling inscription in letters scaled to proclaim their message over the faithful, like that in the frieze of II Jesù in Rome. Such a space calls for a huge congregation; but, as in other such grand center-city churches, attendance is small. Former parishioners have died or moved to the suburbs; Interstate 95 smashes through the parish and runs in a cut immediately beside St. Jean.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "St. Jean-Baptiste Church", [Pawtucket, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 140-140.

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