The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NYC

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NYC

We did not intend to do a cathedral tour of New York City, but it very nearly ended up that way when, after touring Riverside Church, we headed to our next destination and happened upon the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the Gothic Revival architecture that drew us in, it was the humorous signs warning dog walkers to be courteous:

cathedral church st john the divine new york city nyc

We wandered through the adjacent property and admired the statuary, then this caught our eye.  Certainly, it wasn’t done on purpose or by a human hand, but it gave us a chuckle.

cathedral church of st john the divine nyc new york

When we made it around to the front entrance of the church we realized just how big the church is.

catehdral church of st john the divine new york nyc

That’s only the center section of it!  Some say it is the largest Anglican cathedral in the world, with an interior area of 121,000 square feet.

Those 12 x 18 feet doors are made of bronze and were installed in 1936.  The artist only made three other sets in his lifetime – two in England and one in Boston.  The doors consist of 48 relief panels depicting scenes from the Bible.

At the west end of the nave, installed by stained glass artist Charles Connick and constructed out of 10,000 pieces of glass, is the largest rose window in the U.S.

cathedral church of st john the divine rose window stained glass

Construction on the cathedral began in 1892, the first services were held in 1899, and it was first opened end-to-end in 1941.  After a large fire on December 18, 2001, it closed for repairs and reopened in November 2008. It remains unfinished, with construction and restoration a continuing process. As a result, it is often nicknamed St. John the Unfinished.

The day we visited, there was a funeral taking place, so we were limited in what we could see and photograph. There were many statues and tapestries in small alcoves along the sides of the church, and a large piece of artwork hanging from the ceiling. It seemed equal parts museum and church, which seemed strange to me. However, it is impressive in its size and history, so I recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine is located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue
at 112th Street, New York, NY 10025.  Telephone 212-316-7540.  The Cathedral is open 7:30 am to 6:00 pm daily. The Visitor Center is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. There is no charge for a self-guided tour, but there are also themed, fee-charging tours available.

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