The art, architecture and history of one of San Gabriel Valley’s more iconic churches is the subject of a newly published book from Prospect Media Publishing.

“Tower of Pasadena” tells the story through words and photos of St. Andrew Church as it grew alongside the city of Pasadena --- both established in 1886. Written by St. Andrew parishioner Tri Fritz, the book gathers information, history and stories of the church which, says Fritz, needed “a good document of itself. They certainly don’t build churches like this anymore.”

Indeed, the church is a splendid example of Byzantine architecture, inspired by the churches of early Rome. Its majestic clock tower is a landmark for residents and visitors who see it while walking the streets of Old Town Pasadena or driving on the 210 Freeway. 

Once inside, the church is breathtakingly beautiful with impressive details in every nook and corner --- including awe-inspiring murals, bronze work, decorated wood beams, marble columns and more.

A member of the committee that organized events last year in conjunction with the parish’s 125th celebration, Fritz wanted to contribute his writing talents. He’s a professional fundraiser for the Boys Scouts of America but has done his share of freelance writing for the National Catholic Register and other publications. He teamed up with photojournalist David Crane who had previously photographed the church and who “jumped at the chance” to tell the story of St. Andrew via images.

“The first part of the project was David getting the photos of the church,” says Fritz. “We formed the book around what he photographed.”

Some of Crane’s elegant and striking photos show church details that are often over-looked. For example, a series of murals over the sanctuary that shows the life and death of St. Andrew which, says Fritz, is hard to physically see in its entirety. “The altar blocks the mural but David found an angle where the whole mural could be seen,” he says.

Another series of photos reveals the stained glass art that are rarely seen up-close because they are positioned so very high and out of easy eye-view.

“The photographs really brought out the story of the church and I wanted the text to support that,” says Fritz who spent nearly a year researching from church archives, the Pasadena Museum of History, Pasadena Star News as well as interviewing long-time parishioners. He also worked closely with fellow committee members who were organizing regular tours of the church.

“There are a lot of wonderful little stories around the parish, especially since this church is really the third St. Andrew’s church,” says Fritz. “What is fascinating is how the parish and city of Pasadena grew together from being a location way on the outskirts to being a major city.”

Overall, working on the book gave Fritz an even deeper appreciation for his church building and parish. “There’s no place you can turn to in the church that hasn’t been designed to enlighten or inspire,” he says. “This is a place of worship, designed to express Christ, his love and our relationship with God.”

Proceeds from Tower of Pasadena will benefit the continued church restoration projects. Copies of the book can be found at the Pasadena Museum of History, Vroman’s Bookstore and at St. Andrew Church, and online on Amazon.

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