September 21, 2011

Places: St. Matthew's Cathedral

Today is the feast of St. Matthew.  Had I been a little more attentive to my date-book, I would have noted this, and headed towards St. Matthew's Cathedral here in Washington for morning Mass.  Poor St. Matthew's misses out on all the big Catholic events, which usually take place at the Basilica, and is overshadowed in grandeur by the Episcopalian-run National Cathedral.  But it is a beautiful late-Victorian, pseudo-Romanesque church, with a stunning (and colorful!) mosaic and marble interior.

Designed by Christopher Grant LaFarge, the architect of St. John the Divine (Episcopal) in NYC, and the Cathedral of St. James (Roman Catholic) in Seattle, the cornerstone was laid in 1893, and construction continued until the Dome was put in place in 1913.  When the Archdiocese of Washington was established in 1947, it was made the Cathedral.

There is a marvelous online tour of the Cathedral on their website.  One of these days, I will have to take my camera down and see what I can see.   The Romanesque is not my favorite style. I've often wondered why, but I think it must be the light.  In a Romanesque building most of the light must be artificial because only the dome and a short clerestorey has windows. I am a child of the Gothic in my heart ; I cannot resist a shaft of brightly colored sunlight beaming through an ornate window. Still, I just am awestruck every time I see the mosaics, made of turquoise and lapis lazul, and golden marbles, corals, and any other number of gemstones and colored glass and tiles.

But, if you ever come to Washington, be sure to see this extraordinary church.  It's only a couple blocks from the Washington monument, so you really have no excuse.

St Matthew's Cathedral

St. Matthew

Our Lady's Chapel

St. Matthew's Cathedral

St. Matthew's (IMG_4152)

Photo credits: Tiz_Herself / Maverick2003 / swiderski

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