Let me start by saying that I am no fan of organized religion. Just can’t dig the idea of Crusades, Inquisitions and Jihads in God’s name. Count me out of that business – I want nothing to do with it.
But I do love Cathedrals.
In the beginning…
It was back in the spring of the Year of Our Lord 1999. Traveled to New York City to attend an annual meeting of the Board of Directors for a company I was working with. There always should be some pleasure with business, so a private tour of the city was arranged.
We stopped at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. When I walked inside, I was overpowered and (seriously) nearly passed-out from the incredible gothic design and a ceiling so high that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside. On top of that, it just so happened that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra was rehearsing a Beethoven chorale. It changed me.
Since then, I find myself visiting cathedrals wherever I may be. And for the record, I don’t travel to see cathedrals, but if I am traveling and there happens to be a cathedral in town…
Why Am I So Fascinated?
I’m not sure. I suspect that it is a combination of architecture, history, geographic location, and human aspiration – each cathedral brings its own unique ethereal feeling.
I fondly remember visiting Notre Dame in Paris while Mass was being observed. At St. Paul’s in London, I climbed the historic circular stairway to the dome level and was rewarded for my efforts by an acoustically stunning choir rehearsal. Visiting Westminster, in London, was incredible to walk though – the history and architecture made it an unforgettable experience. Perhaps my favorite cathedral of all is St. Thomas in mid-town Manhattan…can’t really explain why, it just holds a most special place with me.
Winchester Cathedral in rural England was truly a sight to behold. It was memorable to attend Mass with my family at St. Patrick’s in NYC. The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. was certainly impressive. Being a big fan of New Orleans, the St. Louis Cathedral was a pleasure to visit.
I’ve yet to see the magnificent Italian cathedrals, but I haven’t been to Italy yet…
And by the Way:
Oh yeah, and while I’m confessing, I am silly for the incense that the Catholics burn during Mass. Had to have some for personal use. Though not Catholic, I did not want to upset the Pope by obtaining it surreptitiously. It took me a couple of years to legitimately get my hands on some, but that’s another story, another time.