Washington National Cathedral

Feature Image credit Washington National Cathedral

NationalCathedral

The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, also known as The Washington National Cathedral is a magnificent example of Gothic revival in the United States. In 1906 during a period where individuals were nostalgic of the middle ages, George Frederick Bodley and Henry Vaughan designed the plans for the extraordinary establishment. Sadly, in 1906 Bodley passed away and it was Henry Vaughan who carried out the plans for the Washington Cathedral in 1907. Ten years later however, with construction of the monument well under way, Vaughan also passed away. It would take another 73 years before the Cathedral was completed, with Frohman, Robb & Little Architects at the helm of its construction.

I know that the photos could never portray the real magnificence of experiencing the Cathedral first hand. Made with Indiana limestone and built without the use of steel support, it is built in the shape of a cross and stands at 160 meters in length and 92 meters in height. Complete with 215 stained glass windows, towering stone archways and 112 stone gargoyles throughout the Cathedral, you can see why people would want to recreate this whimsical design of medieval times. Many of the sculptures and features found inside the cathedral tell the tales of mankind’s biblical beginnings as well as the cathedrals humble beginnings.  Inside the Cathedral is a heated stone floor and on the outside, a Darth Vader stone carving (YES – Luke’s father), are two of the few features that suggest a touch of modernism.

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5 thoughts on “Washington National Cathedral

  1. Church architecture has always fascinated me – especially those incredible cathedrals from the Middle Ages. These enormous projects were examples of the devotion of the people, trying to create something that expressed their awe of God. They also served as employment for the people of the surrounding towns for decades. And with the sculptures, paintings, and stained glass windows throughout, they served as a way for a largely illiterate population to learn about their faith. The Cathedral in D.C. is such an interesting example because it was built just as you say to mirror the style of those old cathedrals but with a very different cultural context surrounding it. I enjoyed this post. It made me want to go and pull out some of my church history books and do some more reading too :).

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    1. Me too! I think they are just stunning and could spend a whole day admiring them, perhaps a whole year of exploring each cathedral! Thanks so much for reading Michael. You must have some beautiful cathedrals where you are!

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      1. Churches in the U.S. are interesting, mix of older ones with richer history and modern constructions of efficiency and committee design. My world travels are limited but the most gorgeous churches I’ve ever seen were in Italy. I’ve never seen anything like them! You’re right, I could happily get lost exploring those places for days and days and days :).

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      2. What a wonderful opportunity that would be! It’s a great place to have on the to-do list :). I loved all the churches we saw there but, for me, the most spiritual experience by far was Assisi. The town was quiet and churches were so beautiful – especially the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi. They felt like they were still meant more for pilgrims than they were for tourists.

        While I was in all those churches I also kept challenging myself to think of ways to cultivate that sense of power and wonder in my own prayer life even when I’m not surrounded by buildings like that. Thankfully God’s always down with relationship building :).

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