The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. is a treasure in our nation’s capital. It serves as the place of worship and reflection for all faiths in America. Washington National Cathedral is the capital’s longest construction project that started in 1907 and ended in 1990.
On August 23, 2011 there was a rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia that caused damage to many old structures in the Mid-Atlantic area including The Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral. When I visited the cathedral there are still black cloths up in the ceiling to help catch any falling debris on worshipers. There is currently a new exhibit about the earthquake damage, and plea for the nation to help with its repairs.
There are many national treasures in the cathedral, but one of the coolest is the lunar rock that adorns a beautiful stained glass window of the cosmos. There are 215 stained glass windows in the cathedral and they are all distinctive and have spiritual messages that inspire.
The Children’s Chapel is a tourist favorite, as it focuses on faith with children with small chairs and hand-stitched kneelers with spiritual images and animals. The small altar has scenes of Christ ministering to children. Outside the chapel is the child Jesus with outstretched arms and welcoming hands to kids and adults visiting.
In the 1980’s, National Geographic World Magazine offered a contest requesting children to submit ideas for gargoyles that were still needed for construction on the cathedral. One winner was Darth Vader, and there is a brochure in the book store that you can get that will help you find Darth Vader (you will need binoculars as this picture was taken with a super zoom lens). The cathedral also offers a special tour of the 110 gargoyles that are all uniquely designed and have faith and American themes.
Washington National Cathedral has beautiful garden surrounding the grounds and a wonderful old cottage that was a garden/herb shop. It was damaged by the earthquake, and they are hoping repairs to be completed in the Herb Cottage sometime in Spring 2012. There are many other damaged stone work pieces that will take years to repair, and it will take many people using time, talent, and money to help rebuild the cathedral. Perhaps you would consider giving a donation to help with this cause (a good thing during this Lenten Season). There is a link to the Cathedral Website below with more information. Their website has many virtual tours that one can see the cathedral and its treasures with leaving your computer. They also have a great gift shop/book store in the crypt of the cathedral that is worth your time and treasure.
The National Cathedral has served as our national gathering church for all faiths, and a place to honor our fallen hero’s and public servants. Ronald Reagan’s state funeral was held at the cathedral, and Woodrow Wilson is buried on the grounds. Helen Keller is also buried on the grounds and there is a well-worn plaque in letters and braille to commemorate her work. There have been 15 Presidential funerals and 5 Presidential inaugural prayer services at Washington National Cathedral.