Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For All People

Washington National Cathedral: Celebrating 100 Years

The official name of Washington National Cathedral is The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The second-largest cathedral in the United States and the sixth largest in the world, it is the seat of the Diocese of Washington, D.C., of the Episcopal Church in America. Regardless of its affiliation with the Episcopal faith, National Cathedral is known as the National Church for All People and is largely non-denominational.

In 1792, Pierre L'Enfant included a "great church for national purposes" in his "Plan of the Federal City." In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the cathedral. Eighty-three years later, in 1990, the cathedral was declared finished. The great organ was installed by Skinner & Co. and today features 10,650 pipes and 186 ranks, making it the 17th largest organ in the United States (32nd in the world.)

Gothic cathedrals feature grotesques and gargoyles, the former for deflecting rain water and the latter for carrying it away. One of the most famous and unusual grotesques is Darth Vadar. Located on the back of the North Tower (in the picture above, the tower on the left), he appears as a result of a contest the Cathedral and National Geographic held in the 1980s. Young people were asked to submit their ideas and Christopher Rader of Kearney, Nebraska, won the contest. You need binoculars or a telephoto lens to see the grotesques.

In 2004 and again in 2006, National Cathedral was the setting for the funerals of Presidents Reagan and Ford. The former was an elaborate affair while the latter was a bit humbler, but both were reflective of the lives of their honorees. President Woodrow Wilson is buried here. This was also the setting for the 2001 National Day of Prayer following the attacks on September 11.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 1/08

5 comments:

Bobbie said...

D.C., I thoroughly enjoyed this post and all the links. Your accompanying photo is very nice. Our nice weather may move on over to your way making for good photography days. Thanks for your post!

Lara said...

great photo! and the text is great - this is one of the best things about your page: words&images together!

D.C. Confidential said...

Bobbie: Glad you enjoyed this post. I always learn new stuff when I'm finding information about the things I photograph. It's snowing here today! No significant accumulation, but definitely cold and frosty! Please send all your good weather this way!

Lara: Thank you! I like providing more than just a photo. Plus, this is a way for my friends to see Washington for free! (Or, at least, until they can get here.)

Lisa Sarsfield said...

WOW! Without a doubt the most beautiful building I have seen in a long time. I love the circular detail and all of the curves expertly married to the straight lines of the building and windows.
Great photo too, the dark background, white building and the touch of purple. Truly fantastic!

D.C. Confidential said...

Lisa: I'll have to post some pictures of the cathedral in the daytime. I just spent the better part of last Saturday shooting pictures of the interior and the grounds, but failed to take a proper daytime, exterior shot. I'll make a point to correct that in the next week or so.