Internationally renowned architect I. M. Pei commented that if Marcel Breuer's church for Saint John's Abbey had been built in New York instead of the north woods of Minnesota it would be world famous. Hamilton Smith, Breuer's longtime associate, wrote that the completed church was that rare thing, an architectural design fully realized, and he regarded it as Breuer's finest achievement. The junior member of the twelve-monk planning committee recounts in warm and frequently humorous detail how its members related to the Hungarian-born Bauhaus-trained architect who had no background in church architecture but shared their belief in the enduring quality of simple materials sympathetically used. How the strong architect-client relationship survived the strain of disagreement at a critical moment in completion of the church is the narrative high point in this informal record of four years in which the reader sees a masterpiece of modern church architecture take shape.
"Hilary Donald Thimmesh, OSB, is a native Minnesotan who became a monk of Saint John's Abbey in 1947. He was ordained priest in 1954, gained a doctorate in English from Cornell University in 1963, and taught courses in Chaucer and Shakespeare intermittently with administrative appointments until 2009. He currently heads the Benedictine Institute of Saint John's University."