Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A little choked up on Sunday morning

After waking up late and flying through getting ready, Jessica Thompson and I hit the ground running to catch mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral - and I mean literally running. Our class had already left as a group and we weren’t really sure where we were going. Despite multiple unnecessary tube station changes, wearing sweaters the one hot day in London, AND getting a little lost (as usual) we managed to make it to mass with three minutes to spare. At first glance the church was large and ornate, even overwhelming, but after a closer look and catching our breath the intricate minor details began to sink in: the vaulted dome and beautiful artwork; the huge statues along the walls; the carefully carved trim and marble work. All were masterpieces.

The church took 35 years to build and is one of Sir Christopher Wren's most famous churches. St. Paul's cathedral boasts three organs in its main sanctuary, two of which played in unison the day that we attended. The mass was also supplemented by the choir singing Mozart’s Missa solemnis in C. That is where it really all began for me. Music does something to me emotionally, and always has, so when I heard the choir raise their voices and the music reverberate through the cathedral it brought tears to my eyes. I'm not quite sure why, but I guess it's one of those things you have to experience for yourself.

Sitting in a place where the first mass was held in 1697 can really work its way into the fibers of your being. Even though most religious places affect everyone differently, all should be appreciative of the sheer beauty of seeing St. Paul’s. All attendees of the service were offered to take communion or receive a blessing. I chose to receive a blessing because hey, everyone can use a little help along the way, especially this far from home. The message that day was about "doubting Thomas" and having a "blind faith." The message struck a chord with me because we all have to go through life not really knowing, but just having to hope and keep going. Life is about taking chances and making that “leap of faith.” Be strong and carry on.
                                                   -- By Jessica Holliday

A history full of meaning

On Sunday July 3, I went to mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a Sung Eucharist and was dedicated to Thomas the Apostle. The City of London Sinfonia accompanied the combined children's and adult choirs to sing much of the mass. It was absolutely beautiful. The choir sang beautifully and the Cathedral itself is truly breathtaking.

St. Paul’s has been located in the same place since 604AD and is considered an iconic part of the London skyline. There have been four cathedrals on this site, each being destroyed. The last cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The current cathedral was built between 1675 and 1710. According to information from the cathedral's website, “Its architectural and artistic importance reflect the determination of the five monarchs who oversaw its building that London’s leading church should be as beautiful and imposing as their private palaces.”

The interior is decorated beautifully, somewhat because Queen Victoria complained that the interior was dreary, dingy and undevotional, so magnificent mosaics were added. The American Memorial Chapel stands behind the High Altar. This area was damaged by bombs during World War II and is a gesture of gratitude from the British to the Americans who lost their lives in that war.

St. Paul’s is the cathedral of the Diocese of London. It is an Anglican church visited by millions every year.

For more information, you can visit their website at http://www.stpauls.co.uk/.                                               
                                                          --By Jenna Talley

St. Paul's Cathedral: an experience to remember
Early Sunday on July 3, I attended church in one of the most elegant and beautiful cathedrals in all of London, St. Pauls. This was an experience that I will cherish forever. From the very moment I entered I was in awe by the magnificent art and statues that surrounded me. Every intricate detail caught my eye from the floor to the ceiling. Tt was like nothing I had ever seen before. The hymns sent chills up my spine when I first heard the combined choir singing, it was heartfelt and beautiful. The cathedral is open to tourists and fully welcomes anyone to the joyful and peaceful experience of St. Pauls.

St. Paul’s has stood in the same spot since 604AD but has since been rebuilt and redesigned many of times. Christopher Wren completed the current design of the cathedral after the Great Fire. It took him 32 years to finish the fourth edition of the cathedral that came about in 1710. It has withstood many historical events including the blitz during the second world war. Many of the paintings and monuments that are inside the church represent some of Britain’s finest heros, such as Winston Churchill along with other important monarchs of overwhelming importance. St. Paul’s Cathedral is an iconic symbol to the people of London showing the strength, hope and faith that keeps them together.   
                                   -- By Miranda Stewart

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