Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist 
in Savannah, Georgia is a work of art 
and a symbol of persistence in the face of adversity. 

According to the church's web site,
the first St. John the Baptist church 
was a small structure built in the late 1700s by French and Haitian settlers.
It was rebuilt and expanded following hurricane damage in the 1850s.
However, a French Gothic style cathedral was built at its present site in 1876;
spires and stucco were added in 1895, only to have the cathedral burn in 1898.
After years of reconstruction, the present cathedral was dedicated in 1920.

I was able to tour the cathedral Christmas Eve morning,
along with dozens of other tourists.
The Cathedral's architecture and appointments are amazing.
The ceiling soars 66 feet above the marble floor of the altar and the support columns:

A view of one side of the altar:

The nativity scene was beautiful. It even had a waterfall.
Many angels were suspended in the "sky" over the manger:

 Real evergreens and beautiful figures:

The purple ribbons are on the most elaborate Advent candles I've seen.
The lectern is hand-carved, showing profiles of the four gospel writers:

A view of the main altar and its ceiling:

A beautiful poinsettia tree.
I couldn't help wonder how they watered it.
The altar rail is Italian marble:

One of my favorites, a fixture in Catholic churches, the red prayer votives:

This is a view towards the rear of the cathedral,
showing the pipe organ and the Celtic rose window,
which incredibly is 20 feet wide:

Christmas Eve night, I kept myself awake long enough to attend
midnight mass. I got there at 11:00 p.m. 
and there was already a huge crowd.
I was a little surprised at the number of people taking photos 
of the church and nativity scene before the Mass started, 
but people are awed by the spectacle.
The cathedral is itself a beautiful gift for all of its members and visitors,
in many ways, more precious than gold.

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