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Category: History of the Church

7 Things You Didn’t Know About DC’s Washington National Cathedral

Though many may be surprised to discover the National Cathedral is not a Catholic church, we still think this beautiful church is worth talking about. As our country goes through this period of national transition, let us all turn our attention and prayers to the providential, sovereign Lord of creation. The Washington National Cathedral is a beacon of hope in our nation’s capital and a reminder of the beliefs on which this great country was built.

In 1791, George Washington, the first president of the United States, commissioned French architect Pierre L’Enfant to draft a plan for Washington D.C. In his design of the new capital, Pierre L’Enfant set aside land for a church for national functions. This was the birth of the national cathedral, one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in the U.S. However, George Washington later fired Pierre L’Enfant after a series of disputes. For more than a century after the firing of Pierre L’Enfant, Washington D.C. existed without a comprehensive plan. However, in the late 1800s, Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan was revisited. His idea of a national cathedral was revised in 1891 and construction began in the early 1900s. Despite being such an iconic piece of architecture, many people do not know much about the Washington National Cathedral.


Here are 7 things you probably didn’t know about the Washington National Cathedral

1. The official name of the Washington National Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It features a 53-bell carillon, numerous stone carvings, stained glass windows, and the largest pipe organ in D.C.

2. The cathedral is constructed of Indiana limestone. Its design was inspired by English style gothic cathedrals with ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, and pointed arches. Compared with most cathedrals in Europe, the Washington Cathedral was built in a relatively short period; 83 years. This cathedral is the sixth largest in the world measuring 500 feet long and 301 feet high.

3. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr, the cathedral sits on 51 acres and comprises a parish church, library, elementary school, boy and girl schools, and offices of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

4. Even though its name features the word “national” and its designated as the National House of Prayer, the Washington National Cathedral does not receive any money from the federal government. In addition, the church is the official seat of the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S. as well as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. However, the Washington National Cathedral does not receive money from the church either.

5. Private funds were used in the construction of the church. Its current operations are supported by revenue generated by its shops as well as gifts and donations.

6. The church’s foundation stone was laid on the east side of the site of the church on September 29, 1907. The foundation stone comprises a small stone obtained from a Quarry near the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem inserted into a larger American granite stone. The foundation stone was later covered over to symbolize the unseen mysteries of the Christian faith.

7. The church features many stained-glass windows. The most popular is the “Scientists and Technicians” window more popularly known as the Space Window. This window is located on the south side of the nave and features a piece of rock obtained from the moon and brought back to earth by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

The Washington National Cathedral has so many beautiful and interesting features that may not all be covered in a single visit. The more you explore, the more you discover.

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Things You Didn’t Know About the History of the Church

How much do you know about the Catholic Church?  The Catholic Church has a long and rich history stretching back 2,000 years somewhere in the annals of history there are some forgotten facts.  Here are some interesting facts you may not already know.

1. For the first 1,000 years of Christian History, the Roman Catholic Church was the only Christian church in existence. All the other Christian churches come from the Roman Catholic Church, many of these newer churches are less than 200 years old.

2. Roughly 15% of all the hospitals across the United States are Catholic hospitals and in many countries around the world the church provides the only education, healthcare and social services people have access to.

things you didn't know about the history of the Church

3. With a population of only about 500 people and statistically a little over one crime per day, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world. Per capita the crime rate is over 100 percent!  You need to bear in mind that Vatican City is only one square mile, but it has more than 20 million visitors annually and most of the crimes are petty offenses done by tourists.

4. The inventor of the printing press Johannes Gutenberg was Catholic and the first book to ever be printed was the Catholic Bible.

5.  The entire composition of the bible, the books that were included how they were organized by chapter and verse was put together by the Catholic Church.  Later Protestant churches removed the books that conflicted with their ideology, Martin Luther removed many books including Tobit, Maccabees, Sirach, Judith 1 and 2 and Baruch.  Martin Luther also tried to remove Revelations and James but his followers were strongly opposed and the books stayed.

6.  The expenses of the Catholic Church are higher than Apple’s revenue. In 2012 the expenditures were more than $170 billion while in that same year Apple earned $157 billion in revenue.  Most of the expenses were largely charity organizations.

7.  There isn’t actually an official number but there are more than 10,000 saints recognized by the Catholic Church. Technically any person who enters heaven is a saint so the number of saints is considerably larger than those that are recognized.  Here is a video explaining how the Church declares saints.

8. In an emergency any Catholic can perform a baptism, if there is someone near death. It’s valid as long as the person being baptized desires it.  There are guidelines that needs to be followed and the practice should be left to trained clergy.

9. The pope’s security service is the Swiss Papal Guard, the uniforms were designed by Michelangelo and they are armed with halberds. Each member of the guard must complete military training in Switzerland, be male and Catholic.  They must be at least 5’8” tall and demonstrate good conduct.  If they are lucky enough to be chosen they are granted a private audience with his Holiness.  The Swiss Guard is the longest serving active military unit in the world, they have been around since 1506.

10. The Pope must be at least bilingual, Latin is the language of the Church and the most must be fluent in order to conduct the day to day business. Since the pope is also the Bishop of Rome he must also be fluent in Italian.

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