Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gateway to the West

I made a visit to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, constructed from 1963 to 1965. It is 630 feet wide at the base and stands 630 feet tall, making it the tallest monument in the United States.

The street along the waterfront was entirely flooded.

The arch is laid out in a park and a mall leads up to the old courthouse in the city.

Sometimes looking up at the arch can make you dizzy.

Later, we went to the zoo. Maddie and I rode the train.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rome of the West

St. Louis, Missouri is home to many beautiful Catholic churches and has sometimes been called the "Rome of the West." Among the most beautiful is the new cathedral. Work began in 1907 and the first Mass was offered in the building in 1914. It was consecrated as a church and became the new cathedral for the archdiocese in 1926. Pope John Paul II designated it as a basilica in 1997.

A magnificent structure, the cathedral is Romanesque in style on the exterior and Byzantine on the interior.

In 1999, this sculpture was installed on the side lawn of the cathedral. It features a winged angel with African-American features, standing behind three children with Hispanic, Asian and European features, playing a song of peace on their instruments. The wings contain dozens of chimes that sound in the breeze. The sculpture emphasizes a theme of harmony, peace, and racial justice.

The cathedral is the largest collection of mosaics in the world--41.5 million pieces of mosaic glass covering 83,000 square feet. The work was begun in 1917 and completed in 1988.

Above, one of the confessionals in the North transept.

The coat of arms of one of the archbishops of St. Louis.

Above, a sculpture of King Louis IX of France, for whom the church and the city are named.

A requiem side chapel in the basilica decorated in black and gold mosaic tile. The bier lights stand perpetually before an altar with a statue of Christ with the Sacred Heart. The red hats of the cardinals of St. Louis hang from the ceiling. According to legend, when a particular cardinals hat deteriorates to the point that it falls from the ceiling, that cardinal has left purgatory and now enjoys the beatific vision. From the looks of it, they're all still burning.

Above, the cathedra of the archbishop of St. Louis.

The high altar of the cathedral is covered with a beautiful baldichino.

Above, the side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.

A bronze pieta.

Views of the sanctuary taken from the side ambulatories.

My daughter Madeline in the prayer garden on the North side of the church.

The exhibit Vatican Splendors: a Journey through Faith and Art is currently showing at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.