Washington National Cathedral

A special thank you to our faithful parishioner, Deborah, for arranging a personalized tour for the Saint Bartholomew’s Congregation. Brian from the Cathedral’s Fundraising Office led the tour.  Victoria, Janet, Jeff, Deborah, Brian, Celia, Charlie, C.C., and Chris attended.

National Cathedral

The National Cathedral is actually the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.  Outside, St. Peter can be seen on the tower on the left with a fishing net and St. Paul is being blinded at seeing God for the first time.  No Federal funding goes into the Cathedral or went into the construction. 


The construction began in the 1930’s and finished with President George H.W. Bush laying the final piece in 1990.  The length of the interior is longer than the Washington Monument is tall.  All stone in classical style with no rebar.  The stone is all limestone because it hardens with weathering.

Aerospace Windows

This window has an actual Moon Rock in the center.

The inscription says, “Is not God in the height of heaven?”  The Moon Rock was returned to Earth in 1973 on Apollo 11.  Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were here when it was presented.



The window opposite represents Flight:











The Rose

Debra noted how the rest window changes colors so much throughout the day.
The first window on the right is the Maryland window (just a cool fact; did not get a picture).






Civil War window

  • Taken out a little over a year ago
  • Installed in 1950’s
  • Was originally to be Lee on one and Grant on the other. Jackson. Confederate flag.
  • Donated by an individual
  • Bothered some. Charlie thought there was a tire to the Daughters of the Confederacy
  • Deconsecrated before removing since they had been consecrated when Installed
  • Discussion of displaying them in an educational context

Cathedral shape

In the European style, with Transepts to north and south.  There is even a piece of stone imported from Canterbury Cathedral.

Military chapel

Each of the country’s wars are depicted in the windows.  We talked a bit about the story of “The Four Chaplains” depicted in the bottom left on the three window panes shown in the picture.







The Children’s Chapel

St. John’s Chapel

Crypt in the South sitting area of the East wing holds one of the first Air Force captains, who received the French Legion of Honor (their highest honor; similar to our Medal of Honor).

Note the knee pillows embroidered with famous names

The High Altar


The Great Choir

A wooden screen separates the area as an area of holiness.  In old times markets would set up on the churches.  





The large seat is that of the Bishop of Washington.






To the north, this chapel’s ceiling has ribbing in the Catholic style.










Down to the Lower Levels…

This tiny Good Shepard window is in the stairway. It is one of Deborah’s favorites.

The Chapel under the Great Choir is larger than all of St. Bartholomew’s in Laytonsville.   Rev. Calkins leads the noon Eucharist during the week as often as once a month.

The first Bishop of Washington is entombed behind the Altar.






The detail on some of the windows is incredible. Look at the castle and countryside in the background.

Chapel of St. Joseph

This is the central underground chapel.  The very plain, rounded arches are Romanesque.

The artwork is of him taking Jesus’s body to the tomb.  Note the hair of the people is styled very modern.  There are people buried under the center part of the floor. You might be able to see the different-shaped tiles where the people are standing in the picture above.  Helen Keller and her teacher and Woodrow Wilson are also buried in the Cathedral.

There are more buried behind the chapel as well as another, tiny chapel.

Resurrection Chapel

Several beautiful mosaics that were recently cleaned. Created by Roland Lacompt.







Above the cathedral’s 110′ ceiling




Meeting room


Pilgrim’s Observation Level

Lastly Brian took us to the observation catwalk above the main cathedral

My pictures so not do justice to the colors of the rose. There was purple in the rose that shows up clear in these pictures!

What an awesome experience!  Thank you, Brian and Deborah, for arranging this and treating us to such wondrous sights.