Our History

Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church was a centerpiece of life
in the catholic community in Hopkinsville.

 

Left: the celebrant and several other priests leave Mass (sometime around 1928)

Construction of the current church took about seventeen months, beginning in May of 2001 and reaching completion in October of 2002. The 1927 church and the rectory were both removed to make room for the new church.
Father Gerald Baker oversaw the design and construction. The church was dedicated in November 2002 by Bishop John McRaith.

 

Below: a group photo, perhaps in the late 60’s?

It is very fitting that the footprint of our new church covers the land area of both the original 1872 church and the 1927 church. This serves as a reminder that our parish continues to build upon the faith handed down to us by family members and parishioners of earlier generations. In gratitude for their legacy, many treasured elements of the old church buildings have been incorporated into the new church.

The church’s cornerstone is made in two pieces. The cornerstone of the old church was cut in two, and the dates of the old and new churches are engraved in the two sections.

 Narthex
 

The two stained glass windows in the narthex depict our parish’s patron saints, Peter and Paul.

These windows were part of our old church building. Peter is depicted holding keys, since Jesus said to him, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” These keys have been handed down by papal succession to Pope John Paul II.

Saint Paul, the author of several letters in the New Testament, is represented holding the Bible and a sword, recalling that Paul said in his letter to the Hebrews that
“the word of God … is sharper than any two-edged sword.”

 

Paintings of Saints Peter and Paul in the Narthex

The painting at left shows Saint Paul preaching in Athens.

The painting at right depicts a story about Saint Peter. According to legend, during Nero’s persecution of the Christians, Peter decided to leave Rome to avoid being persecuted. Our Lord appeared to him on the way, carrying a cross, and Peter asked him: “Where are your going, Lord?” Jesus replied: “I come again to be crucified,” and Peter was ashamed of himself for fleeing. This reminds us that as Christians we must be willing to suffer for Christ, and to unite all our daily sufferings to his.

 

Above the baptismal font is a painting of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.

All the hanging light fixtures from the old church have been used in this church. Several of them are in the narthex, and the rest are in various locations throughout the church.

 
 

The entry, or narthex, includes a baptismal font carved by the artist John Czernosky, a former parishioner now living in Nashville. A number of his works are visible throughout the church. The Latin inscription on the baptismal font is from the third chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:

Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you are born again of water and the Spirit,
you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

(Statues)

This is a good place to view the statues of the Holy Family — Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

 

Doors to church, shape of church, pews

The slate flooring you see here and throughout the church is imported from China.

(Begin just outside oak doors.)

These doors you are about to pass through are made of solid oak, as is most of the woodwork you will see. Notice the handles on these doors. The fish is one of the earliest symbols of Christianity. While the early Christians were being persecuted, they secretly identified themselves to each other as Christians by drawing a picture of a fish, since the letters of the Greek word for fish, ichthus, are the initial letters of the words Jesus, Christ, God, Son, and Savior.

 
 

(Enter into main church, pause just inside door.)

As we enter the church, the first thing you might notice is its shape. In the tradition of the Catholic Church, it is built in the form of a cross. This particular church is in the form of a Greek cross, where all four sides are of the same size. Because of technology available today, this church has been constructed without any pillars that might obstruct the congregation’s view of the altar.

(Pews — move into center of church among pews.)

This church has seating for 610 people. The pews are made of solid Northern Appalachian Red Oak. Long oak boards are hard to come by, so many different sources in about six different states were used to accumulate enough boards for the job.

The pew ends have a classic design called a waterfall slope. The design carved in the pew ends is unique to our church, combining elements seen in different churches or offered by various manufacturers.

Another feature of our pews is the handicap access designed into them. There are some short pews up front where a wheelchair can be placed alongside. Another option in the rear of the church is called “companion seating.” There are four short rows with no pew ends so someone can roll a wheelchair alongside and slide into the pew without being hindered by a pew end.

Seating for the congregation is arranged so that the people face east toward the altar, recalling that people look to the East for the coming of Christ.

 
 

Altar area

In traditional style, the altar where the Mass is celebrated has been placed at the intersection of the two arms of the cross. That is because the altar symbolizes Christ, who is the heart of the Church. This altar is another work by John Czernosky. It is carved of oak and topped with marble. The Latin words carved around the altar are the angelic hymn that is part of every Mass, taken from the sixth chapter of Isaiah and the twenty-first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Ambo

This is the ambo, a lecturn from which God’s word in scripture is read during Mass. Also carved by John Czernosky, it has a Latin inscription from the beginning of John’s Gospel that reads:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

(Credence table)

This is the credence table. It holds the gifts of bread and wine which are offered in the Mass and which become the Body and Blood of Christ. The Latin words are from the Offertory of the Mass:

Fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
it will become for us the Bread of Life.

(Tabernacle and sanctuary lamp)

This is the Tabernacle, which contains the consecrated hosts, the Body of Christ, which were not consumed during Mass. These consecrated hosts are reserved in the Tabernacle for two reasons: so that the priest can bring the Body of Christ to parishioners who are seriously ill and unable to come to Mass, and also so that we can come to adore Jesus who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. This beautiful Tabernacle formerly belonged to Saint Anthony Church in Browns Valley.

The table upon which the Tabernacle rests bears these Latin words from the sixth chapter of John:

I am the living Bread which came down from heaven;
if any one eats of this Bread, he will live forever.

 

The sanctuary lamp, the red lamp that you see hanging overhead, is present in all Catholic churches. When it is lit, it means that the Body of Christ is present in the Tabernacle.

Confessionals, bell tower, sound system

The church has three confessionals. Two are located here behind the altar. The third is located in the rear of the church on the Ninth Street side. Each confessional is constructed so that a penitent can make his confession either face-to-face with the priest, or anonymously behind a screen.

View from outside the 9th St confessional

This small space also holds many cherished elements from the previous two churches. The stained glass windows from the 1927 church have been incorporated into the walls of the tower, along with the capitals from the columns that supported the old church. The beautiful high altar was present in both the 1872 church and the 1927 church. James Westin, the great-uncle of Teresa Stites, one of our parishioners, carved it in 1898. The Stations of the Cross, the pews, and the hanging light fixture were all part of the 1927 church, along with the stained glass windows of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the entry to the bell tower. You have probably already seen from outside the old cupola and bronze bell. The bell was added to the original church in 1882. An electronic ringing system was added for use in this new church.

(Bell tower)

Let’s look inside the bell tower. Notice that it is eight-sided, representing the eight Beatitudes from the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, which are beautifully displayed around the walls.

 

(Sound system — move toward speakers on wall outside bell tower.)

The shape of this church is beautiful and has spiritual significance. But when you have a building of this shape with faceted surfaces and a dome, projecting sound clearly can be a real challenge. We have installed a sound system by Bose, a company renowned for state-of-the-art technology in difficult spaces, like the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s in Rome.

What we have is called a line array system. It has four main speakers, each about 4½ inches wide and three feet tall, arranged in two columns (point them out). They project sound around the entire church, but with a beam of sound confined to a vertical space of about seven feet. Since the sound is projected wide but not tall, it does not bounce all over the ceilings.

All areas of the building are wired for sound, so people will be able to hear Mass even if they have to step out momentarily.

We also have available a few wireless portable personal sound systems for persons who are hearing impaired.

Speaking of electronics, a video system with three camera angles will allow taping of special occasions like weddings without a cameraman disturbing the dignity of the ceremony.

These two images represent the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Michael is the archangel who defends us against Satan and all his evil angels. The archangel Gabriel was chosen by God to announce to Mary that she would become the mother of the Savior.

St Michael

St Gabriel

Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with votive candles at the left side of the altar.

St Joseph and the infant Jesus are at the right side of the altar, next to another votive candle rack.

 

Pieta

This statue is a miniature reproduction of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, the Pieta. It depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary as she receives Jesus’ lifeless body into her arms after the Crucifixion.

The inscription on the table says, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.”

(Bible)

This beautifully illustrated Bible was a gift to our parish from the children of Saints Peter and Paul School.

(Windows, future art)
First, notice the four blue frames around the altar. In many of the great basilicas of the world, images of the four Evangelists — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — surround the altar. These four frames display these images.

 

Three eight-foot circular windows have been placed high on the walls, on the north, east, and west sides of the building. Representations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be placed in these windows.

Stained glass images of Saints Peter and Paul will be placed in the main picture window, which measures approximately 30 feet high by 13½ feet wide. The seven panels surrounding the central window will depict the seven Sacraments of the Church: Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.

Notice how, at the four corners of the building, the lower walls ascend to the upper arms of the cross in three sections, for a total of twelve panels — one for each of the twelve Apostles.

Dome, Stations, organ, statues of Holy Family/Peter and Paul

(Dome)

Look overhead and notice that the ceiling is domed at the intersection of the two arms of the cross. The gold stars on a deep blue field represent the heavens. An icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been placed in the center of the dome, representing the Catholic Church’s teaching that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul

The Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross surround the congregation on the outer walls – points of prayer that remind us of Jesus’ passion and death for our sins.

(click the slide show to view full screen in a new window)

 

(Organ)

A new organ was purchased for our new church building. It is an Allen Renaissance Series organ made by the Allen Organ Company near Allentown, Pennsylvania. It is an electronic organ with the latest sound technology, giving it the sound quality of a pipe organ. The organ has three ranks and 50 stops, as well as a MIDI box, which adds additional tones. For example, it has a trumpet tone which sounds exactly like a real trumpet.

The organ was hand-made and took about three months to build. There are thirteen speakers — nine here in the choir loft and four behind the crucifix. This will allow an antiphonal effect — almost like having two instruments answering each other.

Cross rack in hallway

Before we go up to the choir loft, I’ll quickly point out the cross rack, carved by John Czernosky, which bears the inscription,

In this sign you will conquer.