Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why You Should Visit The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

While biking along Amsterdam Avenue today, on the way to visit a relative, I came upon an immense cathedral whose facade caused me to literally stop short on my bicycle and stare. For a moment I was completely lost in its beauty. Although I did not have time to linger, I returned to explore the cathedral after visiting my relative.

View of Cathedral from across the street

Located at Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine is a breathtaking sight. I was giddy with excitement as I marveled at the intricacies of the inlaid stone carvings adorning this Gothic Revival style church (begun in 1892 and still unfinished, according to the church's website and, according to Wikipedia, it was originally started in the Byzantine-Romanesque style ).

With camera in hand, and realizing that I could never capture the full beauty of this imposing cathedral up close, I ran across the street to get a better vantage point. After kneeling along the sidewalk, balancing on a fire hydrant, and trying various other methods of camera angles, I finally ran back across the street to get some close-up shots and then enter the church.

The cathedral's website welcomes all to visit and "become part of the spiritual energy that awaits all who  walk through our doors." As I ascended the steps towards the entrance, I could really feel that spiritual energy drawing me inside, where I was met with the further allure of more Divine carvings, colorful stained glass windows,  and woven tapestries.

Drawing closer to the front of the cathedral, I noticed that a service was ongoing, and that the priest had just begun giving a sermon as the service was ending. I sat and listened, captivated by a statement regarding free will and self-determination and, later, a discussion of the concept of respecting others faiths.

The powerful and moving sermon was followed by a choral selection (one I did not recognize, most likely a hymn) sung in angelic unison by the large co-ed Catherdral Choir. The entire congregation (myself included) then joined together to sing hymn, "God of Mercy, God of Grace". It was incredibly peaceful.

Though I am not Christian, I once built an entire Italy trip around visiting cathedrals, and St. John's rivals some, much older cathedrals that I have seen across the sea. This is a must see for NYC visitors and residents alike.

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