For some, mass in a Catholic church is an uplifting and joyful experience, filled with singing and prayer and fellowship with your neighbors and friends. For others, it is more of an exercise in patience, a weekly pilgrimage undertaken at the behest of your parents, who drag you along for an hour of peculiar rituals and disconcertingly affectless chanting when all you really wanted to do was stay home and watch cartoons. (Hey, we all worship in different ways.)
But if that Catholic church was a mecca of skateboarding? Well, let's just say it'd be much easier to persuade the heathens among us to put on their Sunday best.
So it is with Sk8 Liborius, a 127-year-old abandoned cathedral that has been overtaken by a team of skateboarders, former City Museum fabricators, and engineers, who've transformed it into a skater's Heaven on Earth. Brought to you by many of the same people who built the KHVT guerrilla skate park under the Kingshighway bridge (now demolished), the building is truly a St. Louis gem. The area where the congregation would have gathered is now covered in ramps, stretching all the way up onto the altar, with the occasional graffiti mural adding modern color alongside the church's architectural antiquities.
Sk8 Liborius was formerly St. Liborius, a German national parish established in 1856 in the St. Louis Place neighborhood north of downtown, with construction completed in 1889. The massive Gothic Revival structure was active until 1992, when a decrease in area Catholics led to its doors being shuttered. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the edifice eventually became property of St. Louis' Land Reutilization Authority before being sold to its current owner.
Though the park is technically a private one, it regularly hosts skate jams and competitions, accepting small donations to help with the building's upkeep and repairs (online donations can also be made at www.gofundme.com/fygnzcjz). It has drawn visits from some considerable stars — rapper/skateboard enthusiast Lil Wayne even showed up for a late-night session after his Chaifetz Arena show in February. In time, thanks to the hard work of a dedicated group of volunteers, the unique park may open officially to the public. It's good news for those who prefer our Sunday worship to include more kickflips and fewer kneelers. Can we get an amen?
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