Tuesday, May 6, 2014

St. Paul's Cathedral: Then and Now

St. Paul's Cathedral, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Paul's_Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral is perhaps London's most important historical church. The structure was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was under construction from 1675-1720. Much like St. Peter's in Rome, the Cathedral has largely been the center of religious life of the city (as well as its political life - the Cathedral was the setting for Jubilee ceremonies for the Queen, the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, and for the funerals of public figures like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher).

Also paralleling St. Peter's, St. Paul's Cathedral stands on the site of an older cathedral (Old St. Paul's), which was already in decline before being destroyed in London's Great Fire of 1666. The Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_St_Paul%27s_Cathedral has digital renderings reconstructing the old structure, as well as floor plans and drawings of the Cathedral's interior, which was widely known as one of the most beautiful in Europe.

A 1916 engraving of Old St Paul's. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_St_Paul%27s_Cathedral

(Old St. Paul's) John Franklin's illustration of Paul's Walk for William Harrison Ainsworth's 1841 novel Old St. Paul's. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_St_Paul%27s_Cathedral

Today, Christopher Wren's St. Paul's is an active church that is also open to contemporary art. The video at the link http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-26974188 showcases artist Gerry Judah and his World War I memorial sculptures installed in St. Paul's. The artworks are also a call for justice, as they reference Syria and Afghanistan as well as the countries ravaged by WWI.

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