St. Andrew's Church Murals – Pasadena, California - Atlas Obscura

St. Andrew's Church Murals

The artwork that Italians felt California didn't deserve. 


If you’ve always dreamed of viewing the great works of the Renaissance masters but haven’t had the opportunity to visit Italy, a day in St. Andrew’s is as close as you can get while confined to disappointingly modern Southern California.

Long before you arrive at this 125-year-old Catholic monolith, you will see its Romanesque bell tower, visible from miles away. Within its walls are the commissioned works of Italian artist Carlo Wostry, as rich in color and detail as the murals gracing the catherdals of Rome themselves - so much so that the Italians became displeased.

The parishioners at St. Andrew’s were enthralled with Wostry’s magnificent work, and quickly pulled together funds to commission the artist to adorn the chapel with a glorious mural of the Madonna. This led to even more work, and by the time he was finished captivating the fine folk of St. Andrew’s in 1930, he had spent over five years creating murals for the colossal house of God. By the time he was through, the Los Angeles Times had deemed him “a worthy descendant of the great Italian mural painters of the Renaissance.” and “”a revelation to the western art world” and the best “in any church in the two Americas.”

Many of Wostry’s commissioned murals for St. Andrew’s were finished in the Italian city of Trieste, and 24 pieces were displayed in Trieste before being shipped off to their permanent home in the Golden State. Slightly aghast that such fine Italian craftsmanship was being shipped off to what many thought of as the capital of shallow America, an Italian newspaper spoke out with annoyance that the classic treasures were being permanently installed in such a trifling location, “where the people have money but no genuine art appreciation.” St. Andrew’s may have taken insult to the dig, but likely they were too busy gazing at their masterpieces to care. 


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January 14, 2014

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