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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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This Week in the Catholic Church

July 24 – July 30

This Week in the Catholic Church

Sunday, July 24 2016

Prayer of the Day – The Prayer for Travellers
Saint of the Day – St John Boste

St John Boste was canonized by Pope Paul the VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs, a martyr of Durham.  Born in Westmoreland St John went on to study at Oxford and became a Catholic in 1576 and receiving ordination in 1581.  John was the object of a large manhunt in Northern England, eventually be betrayed, arrested and taken to London.  In London he was put on the rack and crippled, he returned to Dryburn only to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Monsday, July 25 2016

Prayer of the Day – Each New Day
Saint of the Day – Saint James the Greater

One of Jesus’ first disciples, Saint James the Greater was fishing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with John the Apostle when Jesus came.  Unable to catch any fish all day, Jesus told the fishermen to dip their nets once again and their nets came up full.  James would be one of the three called to witness Jesus’ Transfiguration.  He was later rebuked by Jesus when he wanted to call fire on a Samaritan town.

Tuesday, July 26 2016

Prayer of the Day – Family Blessing at a Gathering
Saint of the Day – Saints Jaoquim and Anne

They were the parents of the Virgin Mary while there are no mentions of them in either the Bible or the Gospels most information comes from legend and the Gospel of James.  The Gospel of James is an apocryphal writing from sometime in the second century.

Wednesday, July 27 2016

Prayer of the Day – Hail Mary
Saint of the Day – St Pantaleone

A famous physician the was chosen by the Emperor to be his personal physician.  Originally from Nicomedia in Asia began his life as a Christian but was influenced by the pagan court that led him to give up his Christian faith.  A holy priest convinced him of the error of his ways and he returned to the fold.

Thurday, July 28 2016

Prayer of the Day – Prayer for Parents
Saint of the Day – Saint Innocent I

Born in Albano, Italy became Pope in 401.  He emphasized papal supremacy and strongly favored clerical celibacy.  When Rome was sacked by the Goths he went to the Emperor Honorius for help.  He stressed to his bishops that all matters of great importance be referred to Rome.

Friday, July 29 2016

Prayer of the Day – Prayer for Doctors and Nurses
Saint of the Day – St Martha

John’s Gospels say that Jesus had a friendship with Martha and her family.  Jesus was often a guest in Martha’s home in Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem.  Martha is the patron saint of servants and cooks, hospitality was important in the Middle East as well as to Martha.  When Jesus and his disciples came to visit Martha was often the one serving them.

Saturday, July 30 2016

Prayer of the Day – Family Blessing at Bedtime
Saint of the Day – St. Peter Chrysologus

St. Peter Chrysologus was born in Imola, Italy in 406 it was there he was baptized, educated and ordained a deacon.  He earned the name “Chryologus” for being an excellent speaker.  He rid the area of the last of paganism and ruled over his flock diligently.  He remained in Imola until his death in 450, in 1729 he was named a Doctor of the Church for his simple and clear sermons dealing with Gospel subjects.

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