“The beauty of the stone helps signify the importance of the sanctuary.” The words of Frederick Schuster of RuckPate Architecture, who specified Burlington’s natural stone as one of the high quality interior finishing materials that grace the interior of the new St Michael Catholic Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

Dedicated earlier this year, the church has been built to serve the congregation of the St Michael community after the original was destroyed by fire in 2002. Indeed the architecture of the new church was guided and inspired by the heartfelt statements of the parishioners themselves.

Serving to stand as a celebration of Catholicism and Christianity, both the reredos – defined as an ornamental screen covering the wall of an altar – and sanctuary floor have been constructed using Burlington’s mid-green Broughton Moor natural stone.

Defined by a raised altar platform, six historical round windows and a semi-circular ribbed dome, the sanctuary floor is finished in 12” x 12” x 3/8” honed Broughton Moor floor tiles which, according to RuckPate Architecture, ‘emphasizes the dark green colour of the stone without the high reflection of a polished surface.’ The Broughton Moor stone also serves to complement the mahogany colour of the woodwork to create a rich visual backdrop for the altar and central carved crucifix that are the primary focal elements.

Indeed the reredos, on which the maple crucifix is attached, is also constructed from the same Burlington stone but with a flamed finish. Here, bespoke wall tiles measuring 60” x 27” x 1-1/4” were installed.

As Frederick Schuster adds: “The flamed finish on the Burlington stone not only imparts a subtle texture that emphasises the natural character of the stone, it provides contrast for the crucifix and polished white Carrara marble altar.”

Serving to reflect the strongly held beliefs of the St Michael community, the interior and exterior architecture has been created through the use of several familiar and historical motifs: pointed gothic arch, flat arch, quatrefoil, intersecting wedding rings, rosette and intersecting arches. The combination of form, richness of colour palette and refined detailing achieve a space that is at once both warmly traditional and brightly contemporary.

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