Welcome to the Washington National Cathedral!

by Tina Gibson

Come along to explore Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New York City, New York for seven days during September/October 2014 with ELCA's middle school students. Want more information? Please contact Tina Gibson at tgibson@eastlinnchristian.org.

One of my favorite places to visit while in Washington, D.C. is the Cathedral of Peter and Paul or in layman's terms the Washington National Cathedral. I love to visit this cathedral for a variety of reasons: its architecture, its multiplicity of chapels, and its crypt, yes it has a unique crypt!

Part of Pierre L'Enfant's design for Washington, DC was a church, "Intended for national purposes, such as public prayer, thanksgiving, and funeral orations, and assigned to the special use of no particular sect or denomination but equally open to all." The cornerstone for the Washington National Cathedral was put in place on September 29, 1907. The stone itself came from a field near Bethlehem and was set into a larger piece of American granite. On it was the inscription: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Every detail of the cathedral's interior was carried out by craftsmen using medieval techniques. The completion of the west towers in September 1990 marked the end of 83 years of construction.

Some Interesting Facts:

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached his last Sunday sermon from the cathedral's pulpit.
  2. My favorite stain glass window is the Space window; the large red orb contains a piece of the moon rock presented to the Cathedral by the astronauts of Apollo XI.
  3. There are 112 curious carvings/gargoyles (waterspouts) on the exterior of the Cathedral. Strangest? Darth Vader!
  4. Forty-four angels, each different, in concentric rings over the south portal doors.
  5. This 14th century style Gothic Cathedral includes gardens and shops, as well as an observation gallery with a spectacular view of Washington.