CATHEDRAL OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE




A Work in Progress since 1892

THE CATHEDRAL OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE was founded as a “house of prayer for all people” and is the largest cathedral in the world.  Construction on St. John the Divine, an Episcopal church, begun in the year 1892.  The original architects, 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 -- now also deceased, changed its style to French Gothic.  Covering 121,000 square feet and the size of two football fields, the largest cathedral in the world is still under construction and is not expected to be finished for several hundred years.  Lack of funds and funding problems have made it necessary for the construction of the Cathedral to stop over the years.  Construction stopped after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and did not begin again until 1979.  

In 2001, a fire in the gift shop damaged parts of the Cathedral.  The Cathedral itself is so large that the Statue of Liberty could actually stand under its central dome.  The Cathedral contains seven Chapels of Tongues which are dedicated to different immigrant groups.  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 and their names and dates of birth.   John La Farge designed some of its earlier stained-glass windows.  The Cathedral's rose window contains around 10,000 pieces of stained-glass.  Figures in St. John’s stained-glass windows include both important religious figures as well as modern sports personalities.  The Communications Bay, one window in the Cathedral’s nave, is dedicated to the modern media and television.  Images of comedian, Jack Benny, and his wife, Mary Livingston, honor radio broadcasting and communication through the ages in the Communications stained-stained window.  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 an Native American planting corn,  Romans building bricks, and construction engineers working on modern buildings.  Statues in the Cathedral are of both religious persons (St. Paul) as well as Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela.  A sculpture in the Cathedral’s Great Lawn is a peace foundation designed by Greg Wyatt.   


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