On Friday November 15, 2019, a group of Veritas Press staff members boarded a bus to Washington DC with the intent of visiting the Washington National Cathedral for a tour. On the way to the Cathedral, one of fellow staff members, Michael Eatmon, who has an extensive understanding of religious architecture, its impact, its history and its symbolism led our staff in an in-depth presentation on the background of the National Cathedral.
Michael's lively and informative presentation set the stage for what our team could expect of our guided time upon our arrival at the Cathedral. Starting with the basics of quizzing co-workers by asking what a cathedral is, Micheal moved through the next sixty minutes with poise and humor. The group was surprised to learn that size of the building doesn't determine whether or not a church is a cathedral, but that a cathedral is always a church. What makes a church a cathedral is that it houses a piece of furniture, called a Cathedra. Do you know what a Cathedra is? It's the chair for the bishop.
The discussion of architecture grew beyond the structure of the cathedra to cover the Neo-Gothic attributes of the Washington National Cathedral and the religious symbolism therein. Michael detailed for the group how various aspects of the building's architecture were intended to draw those entering into the Cathedral closer to God. Whether it was the pointed arches, the stained glass, the height of its towers, the statues on the High Alter, and much more. The finest of details were intended to influence the spirit of worship in anyone entering through its front doors.
Upon arrival at the National Cathedral, our tour group was treated to a 90-minute tour focused on the
religious impact of the structure. Veritas staff visited the Cathedra and the High Alter, heard the stories behind the design of a great many stained glass windows, examined tapestries depicting the battle between David & Goliath, toured the various chapels within the Cathedral, took pause at the graveside of President Woodrow Wilson, and over all saw much of what Michael presented come to life before our eyes inside the halls of the Cathedral.
The tour and Michael's presentation made quite an impression on a number of those attending the bus trip. Trisha Williams, Dean of Students, shared, "Standing in a sacred space that took almost 100 years to build is awe inspiring. The iconography illustrates the cathedral's theme of being a 'house of prayer for all people.' I love that the land the Cathedral is built upon is named after Alban the Saint who declared, 'I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things.' I believe that the National Cathedral might be the most important public structure erected in the 20th century."
Briana Wyzinski, assistant to the Executive Staff, elaborated on her experience at the Cathedral, "I was impressed with the concept of reading architecture like a historical and theological tome. What a blessing and privilege to retain that portion of human culture. Entering the nave is truly breathtaking - the walls declare our longing for a greater connection than mere self but also to the Lord. The majesty of such an intentional space less than a fraction of the majesty of He who created us with the capacity to create - awe inspiring."
The overlapping theme that many of us came away from this trip with was that incorporating theology into the consideration of the smallest details in the construction of a house of worship, be it a Cathedral, church or chapel, inspires all of us to stand in awe of our Creator when we enter that theologically designed space.
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