“In this very careful and extensive study of the artistry of St. Aloysius Church, Mr. Bob Murray has brought together history, poetry, wonderful photography and his own extensive knowledge of art and architecture, to enable his reader to share his enthrallment with the genius of both Constantino Brumidi, the great Washington master artist and Fr. Benedict, Sestini, S.J., Jesuit architect and astronomer, a genius enshrined by them in this holy edifice which for almost two centuries has captivated and inspired generations of Catholic parishioners and Gonzaga high school students.
Mr. Murray’s research leads us back through the earliest years of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church and traces thoughtfully its periods of ‘prosperity’ and decline up to the present, allowing us to see and feel the glory and the pain of each era of this Church’s remarkable history, a history continuing today with its most recent lovely renewal and with its latest trial, the roof-raising tornado of 2017.”
—Lucien Longtin, S.J., Spiritual Director, The Jesuit Center,
Author of Swampoodle Lily, Robert Murray, along with others on the conservation team tread in and out of St. Aloysius Church’s murky setting from 1991-1994 and amazingly and masterfully saved the vintage church restoring it to active use on the Gonzaga campus. Successful fundraising demanded the author dig out and uncover the building’s original to the present day structural details and share detailed accounts of its cultural and religious value from its founding to the present. Murray credits the conservation success to its patron, Aloysius Gonzaga, the Patron of Integrity, Stability, and the Dignity of young people today. Once again stable in its urban surroundings, thanks to its ingenious redesign and reconstruction and with the continued blessings by Gonzaga, historic St. Aloysius Church stands securely for many generations to come welcoming all for worship, respite, and a closer look at timeless D.C. history. Author Robert Murray dug literally and physically to save St. Aloysius Church and share its story with you.”
—Anne Ridder, Assistant Dean (Retired), Liberal Studies Program,
“In this world where tourists chase around the globe to appreciate man-made wonders before they disappear from age, neglect or abuse, it is a comfort to discover Robert Murray’s book about the design and history of the Church of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Washington, D.C. Here is a lesser wonder in our own backyard mostly overlooked.
In his own way, Murray preserves the Church with his authoritative description of its network of links to many of the leading forces of art and architecture of the time. William Thornton, Architect of the Capitol, for example, included in the Capitol paintings and decor of the Italian immigrant, Constantino Brumidi, who at the same time was working on the interior of Saint Aloysius, supervising the same artisans who were doing decorative painting in the Capitol.
Murray, an art dealer himself, embellishes his narrative with renditions of the art and architecture of the Church of Saint Aloysius by artist, Nathan Leibowitz, whom Murray commissioned to do the drawings.
It would be a great cultural loss if some day Saint Aloysius is turned into a parking lot. If that happens, Murray’s book will be a valuable record of past glory. Meanwhile, tourists visiting Washington, D.C. will find the book an excellent guide to one of the City’s unknown pasts.”
—William F. McDonald, Professor, Department of Sociology,