Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cathedral of St. John the Divine - New York City

The massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine 
is located in New York City near Columbia University 
between 110th Street and 113th Street and is part of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. 
The large circular window above, from the outside, and below, from the inside.
From the inside of the cathedral, further back toward the nave, looking toward the entrance, reveals the circular stained glass window and the high, vaulted ceiling.
From near the entrance and looking toward the nave.
The altar and choir loft.
It is the fourth largest Christian church building in the world, after St. Peter's in Vatican City, Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil and Seville Cathedral in Spain. Because of its size and surrounding structures, it is difficult to get a good comprehensive picture. 
I previously did a post on the Peace Fountain which is outside and shows up in the first picture above. Construction of the cathedral began in 1892 and it is still unfinished. Because of that it has been nicknamed St. John the Unfinished. It originally started with a Romanesque-Byzantine design. 
Then, following the death of the original architect, the architecture was changed to French Gothic in 1911.
Like many other large religious buildings around the world that have taken a long time to build, it now reflects a number of different architectural styles. The first services in the nave were held in 1941, right before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 
The war halted construction, due to need for uses of funds elsewhere, and construction did not resume again until 1979. 
It is being built using traditional Gothic engineering, meaning blocks of granite and limestone are carved by master masons and apprentices. Below, the massive portal, 
and sculptures on each side
of the massive doors.
The delays in construction have made it more difficult to complete as the stonecutters are now more difficult to find. A fire in December 2001 stopped construction again and required a massive restoration which was completed in November 2008. St. John's has an interfaith tradition and has different chapels within dedicated to different groups, such as a genocide memorial to victims of the Ottoman Empire in Armenia from 1915 to 1923, the Holocaust from 1939 to 1945, and the FDNY. 
It will apparently be a long time before the cathedral is completed. Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time is interred there. Although not finished, it didn't really feel unfinished to me, I'm sure in large part because there was not scaffolding or other signs of construction going on. 

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to add this to our Google Map of sights to see in NYC. Barbara has quite an extensive list as well, but this one is good because it takes us uptown--a good thing.