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Sacred Heart Cathedral
Bloemfontein, Free State

Eduard Hebertus Antonio PAYENS: Architect
Sister Pientia born Josefa SELHORST: Artist

Type:Roman Catholic Church


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29°07'18.09" S 26°13'01.03" E Alt: 1407m

"Payens' explorations of local building culture are most evident in his design for the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bloemfontein (1962). The Cathedral was inaugurated as a multi-racial church and remained so throughout the years of apartheid. Set against a hill, the main facade with its sweeping stair offset against a campanile-like tower topped by a concrete crown dominates the approach. On entering the cathedral, the eye is drawn to a magnificent altarpiece set against a slate-covered wall, which Payens derived from local Sotho building practice. The mosaic altarpiece, which like the other artwork in the cathedral was created by Sister Piéntia Selhorst, presents a crucifix set in a mandorla—the symbol of the junction of two worlds—but also reminiscent of traditional African hide shields." (Nicholas Clarke in Common Ground 2021:113)

Books that reference Sacred Heart Cathedral

Berman, Esmé. 1983. Art and artists of South Africa: An illustrated biographical dictionary and historical survey of painters, sculptors and graphic artists since 1875. Cape Town : Balkema. pg 418
Clarke, Nicholas J, Fisher, Roger C & Kuipers, Marieke C . 2021. Common Ground : Dutch-South African Architectural Exchanges 1902-1961. The Netherlands: LM Publishers. pg 113