Instead, they’ve been reappropriated, used for new means. And while some of those means are far different than what their builders intended, others still hearken back to their original purposes.
Consider the Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore. Atlas Obscura reported that this bookseller in Maastricht, the Netherlands, was once a 13th century church.
Yet when Napoleon invaded in 1794, he saw its soaring ceiling and wide-open narthex, and all that space gave him an idea: Why not use it to store military equipment?
That’s exactly what he did, and it went on serving as a warehouse until 2005. But in that year, architects descended on the space, transforming it into a bookstore.
A church building near Cupar, Fife, Scotland, has a more humble function. However, some might argue that it’s one which comes closer to its original function as a place of worship.
Fife Kirk is the private home of Amanda and Sandy McFarlane. It’s history is intimately linked with the family.
Amanda, 56, married Sandy there in 2007, decades after the church had been converted into a private residence. Sandy’s step-son, 33-year-old Rennie, went on to wed his own wife at the same property in 2013.
In fact, Amanda’s grandmother had married there in 1927. So did Amanda’s mother and father in 1959. And Amanda’s aunt in 1963. And her great-great grandmother and her great aunt.
According to the Daily Record, Amanda didn’t have to think twice about tying the knot at the very property she owned. “I knew mum and dad had been married in the church, but I hadn’t realized how many family connections there were. …
“It was an obvious decision to marry there. I’d been familiar with the wedding pictures, and we recreated the pictures in the same place in the church, so you can see how it has changed.
“I feel as if we were meant to be here, that somehow we were meant to come back to the church – like predestination.”
What’s more, though, holding marriage ceremonies in such a space calls back in a very primal way to the religion that the building once honored.
As an old book reminds us, marriage signiﬁes to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.
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