Thursday, July 12, 2012

St Pauls Cathedral - All that Glitters, is Gold

St Paul’s was built by Christopher Wren from 1675 - 1708 after the great fires in London. Northern Europe in 1600 - 1700s consisted of two predominate architectural styles: Baroque and Classic Palladian; both taking root in the revival of roman architecture. During this time there was a Great interest towards antiquity and looking back to Europe’s Roman roots.  St Paul’s cathedral was built in the height of both these artistic movements and the question was what style should Wren use in re-building one of London’s greatest churches? The answer, a mixture of both Baroque and Classic Palladian. Through the eyes of Wren, this was a beautiful tribute to past Roman styles. 

Even though over 320 years have passed,Wren built one of the most gorgeous churches I have ever seen. My visual experiences shape how I view the Cathedral and the churches I have attended have never had such splendor. The inside of this church is massive. Its overwhelming to take in all of its beauty at once. The ceiling is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined it, and to think people created that work with their hands is almost unbelievable. I remember thinking how proud God must of have been of his people when this church was built. We have technology, and even in this day and age we do not build anything nearly as gorgeous as they did in 1675. Being a strong believer in God, the experience made me tear up, how can there not be a God with buildings as beautiful as this one?

Dramatic organs played in the background as an army of choir singers, alter boys and Priest like figures flowed towards the front of the church and took their places among God. The ceiling that surrounded them was covered in god leaf because having God surround your life makes you rich. Biblical figures gazed upon you from the heights of one of the world's largest cathedral domes, almost as if they are looking upon you from the heavens themselves. The central dome is so big the words of the Priest's were almost lost in the air, even with a microphone it was hard to hear the words of God. Could this have possibly been Wren’s intention? Weather or not it was, at least the words floated towards the heavens from which them came. The choir could be heard much better and each time they sung the words of God I got chills. Its nice to see people still care enough to worship. Even though I am suppose to believe in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” this was a worship I will never forget. Especially because the ceremony was almost identical to a Roman Catholic mass (despite a few words). This was not surprising considering England was a Catholic Nation before Henry VIII forced the country to break away for his own personal reasons. Even though I have said it before, I can’t help but think God is proud every time I imagine the inside of St Paul’s. How could he not be? Its beautiful and its all for him.
DISCLAIMER: I tried to write through a Bergerian Lens by looking at why Wren build what he did, but my experience of the mass was so emotional I couldn’t help but express how I saw it!
All research was gathered from Gardner's Art Through the Ages By Helen Gardner and my Art History 259 class notes

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