CATHEDRAL OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE
A Work in Progress since 1892
The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. So large that the Statue of Liberty could stand under its central dome. The interior of the Cathedral has stained-glass windows and art works ranging from tributes to New York City's Dutch heritage, America's founding fathers, Native Americans, 9/11 victims and heroes, religious saints, composers of scared music, and artists of several centuries. The Cathedral was founded as a “house of prayer for all people” and has seven Chapels of Tongues dedicated to different immigrant groups.
Construction on St. John the Divine, an Episcopal church, began in the year 1892. The original architects of the Cathedral, the firm of Heins & La Farge (1892 – 1911), were influenced by a Byzantine-Romanesque style but after their deaths, a new architect, Ralph Adams Cram, changed the style to French Gothic. Covering 121,000 square feet, the size of two football fields, the Cathedral is still under construction and not expected to be finished for several hundred years. Funding issues have interrupted the construction over the years. Construction stopped after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and did not begin again until 1979.
John La Farge, a competitor of Tiffany, designed some of St. John’s stained-glass windows. The Cathedral's rose window contains approximately 10,000 pieces of stained-glass. The Communications Bay, a window in the Cathedral’s nave, is dedicated to modern media and television. Images of comedians honor radio broadcasting and communication through the ages. On a chapel window in the Labor Bay of the Nave, Saint Joseph at his carpenter's bench, Noah, the ship builder, and Saint Columbia the church builder, are represented as are Ancient Romans building bricks, and construction engineers working on modern buildings. Statues are of religious persons as well as Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. Only a few weeks before his death from AIDS, Keith Haring created The Life Of Christ altarpiece, a bronze triptych.
The American Poets Corner, created in 1984 in the Cathedral’s Arts Bay, commemorates American authors Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Hart Crane, Gertrude Stein, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and others with stone slabs bearing quotes from their works along with their names and dates of birth.
Two Menorahs are on each side of the main altar and symbolize the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. A sculpture in the Cathedral’s Great Lawn is a Peace Fountain designed by by Greg Wyatt.