Washington National Cathedral

Nat’l Cathedral-Facade

In May I had the opportunity to visit the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Technically, it is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC. I accompanied friends as we attended a concert by a string quartet. The cathedral is being renovated. Although I had been to the cathedral while in graduate school many years ago, I saw it with new eyes, this time as a photographer. It was late afternoon when we arrived, but night had fallen by the time we left.

The cathedral is the second tallest church building in the United States, and the fourth tallest structure in DC. In fact, it is taller than the US Capital, so a special act of Congress was required for it to be built.

Several features mark the cathedral, including the “creation” rose window. The nave is lined by state flags. As you look on the left, Rhode Island’s flag is the sixth down the line.

Nat’l Cathedral-Rose Window

Other features include the high altar, carved from limestone. Texas limestone was used for the Christ figure, but limestone from a quarry outside Jerusalem was used for the rest. The Canterbury pulpit is where Martin Luther King, Jr., preached his last Sunday sermon before his death. Outside the Children’s Chapel the floor is inlaid with state medallions.

Enjoy this little slide show from the National Cathedral.

What Was Lost Today

ND-West Rose Window

The tragic fire that gutted Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today destroyed magnificent treasures of Christianity. Begun in the 12th century and completed in the 13th, Notre Dame predates the Protestant Reformation and thus belongs to all Christians. I seek in this post to give you a poor representation of the beauty of Notre Dame. Please excuse the very poor images here–they are purchased slides from my trip to Paris in 1980. Now much faded and distorted, they were never very good.

As you no doubt learned in an art history course at some point, the structure of Notre Dame made a striking advance in architecture at the time. Early Christian cathedrals were modified from Roman style basilicas, with circular arches. A modern example of this style is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. This style of construction leads to a more ponderous feel. What designers of Notre Dame wanted to achieve was a much more soaring effect, with lots of windows and light. This demanded a new architectural design, the gothic arch. With the greater strength the gothic arch provided they could raise the ceiling, insert side windows, and support massive rose windows. Those who have visited Notre Dame never fail to be impressed by these colorful masterpieces. To support the walls of the cathedral architects required the use of flying buttresses, impressive in their own right.

UPDATE: As of this morning, April 16, reports are that the structure is not deemed secure, but the organ and west rose window are OK.

The images in this gallery give you some slight hint of this magnificent edifice, meant both to inspire and to instruct.

New Additions to Providence College Campus

PC Science Complex

This new building, the Science Complex, opened with the Fall 2018 semester. Shown here in its night-time illumination, the building contains the administrative offices for the science departments, as well as new, state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. One room that I use occasionally houses the confocal microscope, about which you will hear in a later post.

PC Torch

This torch sculpture reflects the significant character of the Dominican Order’s founding of Providence College. While pregnant, Blessed Joan of Aza, Saint Dominic’s mother, had a dream of a dog holding a torch. She understood this to signify that her child would light a fire across Europe with his preaching. Early saints in the Dominican Order include, of course, Saint Dominic, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Albert the Great. Albert, for whom the Albertus Magnus science building is named, would have appreciated the following image of the torch and the waxing crescent moon.

PC Torch With Moon

Ruane Center for the Humanities

Ruane Window

This magnificent window graces the Great Room in the Ruane Center for the Humanities at Providence College. The window was designed by artist Sylvia Nicholas, a stained glass master who lives in New Hampshire. Sylvia Nicholas also designed the stained glass windows in the St. Dominic Chapel, as well as several sculptures located throughout the campus. This masterful display of major figures in philosophy, history, science, and other areas of the humanities, was installed in the Fall 2017 semester, following the building’s dedication four years earlier. To see details of the individual panes, simply explore the galleries for each row, below. How wonderful to see Darwin next to Gandhi and Shakespeare next to Galileo! These are the sorts of juxtapositions one has the liberty to explore in a liberal arts education.

Row 1 (Top)


Row 2 (Second from top)


Row 3 (Second from bottom)


Row 4 (Bottom)

Women’s Rally In Rhode Island

Crowd Pano #1

January 21, 2017 marked the gathering of more than two million people in over 670 sites in the US and 63 countries around the world. Here in Rhode Island I joined an estimated 7,000 men, women and children in front of the Rhode Island State House, gathered in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington, DC. The crowd here, as estimated by Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements, Jr., was larger than any he could recall seeing on the state house lawn.

State House Setting

People were there to make their voices heard in support of women’s rights, men’s rights, LGBTQ rights, Earth’s protection, immigrant rights, union rights, and the many other causes and concerns that are potentially threatened by the presidency of Donald Trump.  The Donald himself was present, in mock form. Shanna Wells, the event organizer, introduced a variety of speakers and performers, intermixed with chants of “Rise Up!”

Governor Gina Raimondo spoke, as did her husband, Rhode Island’s First Gentlemen, Andy Moffitt. They were accompanied by their daughter. The Governor urged vigilance and pledged support for protection of civil rights in Rhode Island, a state that has welcomed immigrants for decades. People of all ages were there, women and men, too. Banners declaring “No Limits for Women” were joined by the rainbow banner of the LGBTQ community. People’s concern is illustrated by changes made to the White House web site at noon on inauguration day, January 20. Purged from the site were all references to civil rights, LGBT rights, and climate change. In addition, Trump signed an action requesting delay in the Justice Department’s case against Texas for its deliberately racist voter registration law. What will our country be like for this little guy?

Very Young Protester

The Extraordinary Rendition Band

Entertainment included Actress Rose Weaver and The Extraordinary Rendition Band, which led the enthusiastic crowd in singing “We don’t want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants!” Signs with various messages were everywhere. At one point people were asked to turn to their neighbor and declare they were not working alone, but together. All in all, the event was positive and without any violence. One protester chanting “Trump is my president” was quietly led away. I have a feeling this will not be the last such gathering during the next four years.

Rise Up Chant