(3) Five Wounds Church: Appraisal-Significance of Place


Beautiful alter inside Five Wounds shows the aesthetic value

Upon assessing the environment that surrounds the Five Wounds Church, it is evident that maintenance of the plants, grass, and trees is significant to the value of the Site. The first significance of place at Five Wounds is thus a threat to the church. There is little or no management from the Comity that addresses the needs of the trees, plants and grass which give Five Wounds church one of its most defining and distinguishing appearances

To properly appraise the value of the Site within the church, it cannot be ignored that there is a decline in the attendance, especially attendance at the sermons held in English. It is a result, the clergy and people say, of the decline of masses held in traditional Portuguese. This is because the decline of masses held in Portuguese does not reduce the number of masses held total; rather they are given in English. When this happens, the cultural stakes are compromised and the logic of the people is sound: Why go to Five Wounds when there are closer churches to my house which also serve in English? People used to come to church at Five Wounds because its sermons were held in the traditional Portuguese; its decline has resulted in less attendance overall.

The appraisal of value of the physical church building of Five Wounds necessarily takes into account many details. There are pews facing a head altar, statues of saints, and a podium from which Father Morgan delivers his sermons. What value can be appraised from a common church setting such as this? There is that forgotten organ which looms high behind the eyes of the church goers. One of only three on the West coast, this rare organ is an overlooked value. Unfortunately, the building codes which dictate the use of the balcony on which the organ rests, restricts access to any group of people. There must be an entrance and exit path in the case of a natural hazard; currently there is only one of the two required exits.

The process of physical appraisal then turns to two other features: the sound system and the stained glass windows. First, the sound system symbolizes the inefficiency of the Comity’s organizational structure and consequent allocation of church funds. The intended increase in volume turned out to be an increase in garble and noise to the eardrums of those attendees sitting in the back. As eventually discovered, this systems has no capability to delay sound between speakers – a critical function not in every speaker set up, but deadly in this one. Without the sound delay, the speakers overlapped the projections of sound, turning it into an incomprehensible distraction and annoyance. The protection and conservation of the stained glass windows are another piece of the appraisal puzzle which does not receive much attention. While quite beautiful and expensive, there is no information about the images captured in them available to the public. To the regular churchgoer, these windows depict the story of the Bible and may be easily recognizable. But to the causal church visitor, the windows remain a quite mystery.


Stain glass window displaying a picture of Five Wounds. This is significant for the Church


About Five Wounds Church

University of California, Berkeley Anthropology Department

Posted on May 13, 2011, in Anthro136k-spring2011-UC-Berkeley, Anthro136kSp11, Five-Wounds-Church-San-Jose, Microhistories, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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