Thursday, 10 January 2013

Famous Churches - St. Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra, Australia

St. Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra, Australia
The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn evolved from the Diocese of Goulburn, which was itself created on 17 November 1862. It covered the area between the Lachlan and Murray rivers. Archbishop Norman Gilroy of Sydney laid the foundation stone of St. Christopher’s Cathedral on 8 May 1938. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons and former Prime Minister James Scullin. On 4 June, 1939, the parish church of St. Christopher was opened by Archbishop Panico, the Apostolic Delegate. The architect for the Spanish Romanesque style Church was Clement Glancy of Sydney. The builder was Warren McDonald, based in Canberra. Archbishop Eris O'Brien, took up residence in Canberra in 1955, so St. Christopher's became the permanent seat for the Archbishop, and was called a Co-Cathedral, along with St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, Goulburn. In March 1972, the extension of St. Christopher's to double its seating capacity and to provide adequate liturgical space. St. Christopher’s Cathedral claims the distinction of having four prime ministers as parishioners. On 4 June, 1939, the parish church of St. Christopher was opened by Archbishop Panico, the Apostolic Delegate.

Unique Churches - Chapel of St. Gildas, Brittany, France

Chapel of St. Gildas, Brittany, France
Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys: Statue of Saint-Gildas....
Statue of Saint-Gildas
The Chapel marks the site where St. Gildas, an Irish monk, preached Christianity to a local, mainly pagan population during the 6th century.  St. Gildas and his fellow monk Bieuzy, are said to have lived in a cave at the base of the rock where the chapel now stands. It is believed they had miraculous healing powers. Chapel of St. Gildas is locatedupon the bank of the Canal du Blavet in Brittany, France. This was once a holy place of the Druids and has been built like a stone barn over the base of a bare rocky cliff. St. Gildas appears to have travelled widely throughout the Celtic world of Corwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. He arrived in Brittany in about AD 540 and is said to have preached Christianity to the people from a rough pulpit, now contained within the chapel. According to Legend, after healing the daughter of a local Count who had been seriously injured by her husband, St. Gildas was under death threat and it was no longer safe for him to remain in the area.  Bieuzy, however, continued to preach and was famous for his ability to cure rabies. Bieuzy met an unpleasant demise when he refused to interrupt one of his sermons to cure the rabid dog of a local pagan chief who later returned and attacked Bieuzy with an axe. Statue of Bieuzy with an axe lodged in his head can be seen inside the chapel today.

Famous Churches - The Canterbury Cathedral, England

Canterbury Cathedral Church of England
The Canterbury Cathedral is the mother Church of the Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Its formal title is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury. The Cathedral is both a holy place and part of a World Heritage Site. St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 597 AD. Augustine was given a church at Canterbury by the local King Ethelbert, who’s Queen Bertha, a French Princess, was already a Christian. Augustine's original building lies beneath the floor of the nave– it was extensively rebuilt and enlarged by the Saxons, and following a major fire, the Cathedral was rebuilt completely by the Normans in 1070. By 1077, Archbishop Lanfranc had rebuilt it as a Norman church, described as "nearly perfect". The work of the Cathedral as a monastery came to an end in 1540, when the monastery was closed on the orders of King Henry VIII. During the Civil War of the 1640s, The Canterbury Cathedral  suffered damage at the hands of the Puritans.
Thomas Becket
After the Restoration in 1660, several years were spent in repairing the building. The North West tower was found to be dangerous, it was demolished in the early 1830s and replaced by a copy of the South West tower, thus giving a symmetrical appearance to the west end of the Cathedral. During the Second World War, the Precincts were heavily damaged by enemy action and the Cathedral’s Library was destroyed. In 1954, the Library rebuilt and repairing War damage was completed.
A critical moment in the history of The Canterbury Cathedral was the murder of Thomas Becket in the north-west transept (also known as the Martyrdom) on Tuesday 29 December 1170 by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket and is said to have exclaimed in frustration, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" The knights took it literally and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. Becket was the second, out of the four Archbishops of Canterbury, who were murdered.
  • New Archbishop Of Canterbury 'Appointed' (

Beautiful Churches - St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow, Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow, Russia
St. Basil's Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession. Saint Basil's Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox Church erected on the Red Square in Moscow in 1555–61. The Saint Basil's Cathedral was built on the order of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. The original building, known as "Trinity Church" and later "Trinity Cathedral", contained eight side churches arranged around the ninth. The tenth Church was erected in 1588 over the grave of revered local Saint Vasily (Basil). The building's design has no analogues in Russian architecture and it is shaped as a flame of a bonfire rising into the sky. The church was taken away from the Russian Orthodox community as part of the Soviet Unions anti-theist campaigns and has operated as a division of the State Historical Museum since 1928.
Icon of St. Basil the Blessed, St. Basil's Cat...
Icon of St. Basil the Blessed
It was completely and forcefully secularized in 1929 and, as of 2012, remains a federal property of the Russian Federation. The church has been part of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.
According to the legend, missing ninth Church (precisely, sanctuary) was "miraculously found" during a ceremony attended by Tsar. Another popular legend is that Ivan the Terrible had the architect of St. Basil's eyes pulled out after the cathedral was completed so that the architect could not be able to build an equally beautiful structure anywhere else. Yet another legend tells that Napoleon after realizing that he could not count St. Basil's Cathedral among his war spoils, wanted it destroyed. The fuses lit by his men were supposedly snuffed by a sudden downpour.

Famous Churches - St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

St. Peters Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica (Italian: San Pietro in Vaticano) is a major basilica in Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter - the apostle, who is considered the first pope, was crucified and buried in 64 A.D. St. Peter's Tomb is under the main altar and many other popes are also buried in the St. Peter's Basilica. In 324, Emperor Constantine began construction on a great basilica over the tomb. In the mid-15th century it was decided that the old basilica should be rebuilt, this was abandoned after a short while.  The history of the design and construction of this new building spans several centuries and involved several of the most brilliant architects, including Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini, of the early modern period. Construction on the current building began under Pope Julius II in 1506 and was completed in 1615 under Pope Paul V. The building itself is truly impressive.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica (Photo credit: johnmaschak)
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome (Interior)
The largest church in the world, it has a 218 meter long nave. The basilica's dome is the world's largest measuring 42m in diameter and reaching 138 meter high (more than 450ft). The interior, which includes 45 altars, is decorated by many famous artists. Some of the most important works in the church are the Pietà by Michelangelo, the papal altar by Bernini, the Throne of St. Peter - also by Bernini and the Monument to the Stuarts by Canova.
  • Italian protester climbs down from St Peter's Basilica in Rome (
  • The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

Famous Churches - St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco),Venice, Italy

St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco),Venice, Italy
Blending the architectural styles of East and West, Venice's magnificent basilica was consecrated in 832 AD as an ecclesiastical building to house the remains of St. Mark. St Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Located just off the Grand Canal, the gleaming basilica overlooks the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and adjoins the Doge's Palace. In 828, Venetian merchants stole the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from their original resting place in Alexandria, Egypt. It is said the Venetians hid the relics in a barrel under layers of pork to get them past Muslim guards. The relics were initially housed in a temporary chapel within the Doge's Palace, but a more substantial church was built to shelter the valuable relics in 829-32. This burned in a rebellion against Doge Pietro Candiano IV in 976, but was restored by Doge Domenico Contarini (d. 1070). The present St Mark's Basilica, which incorporates the earlier buildings, was completed around 1071. The Basilica di San Marco was the chapel of the Doges, but in 1807, it became the Cathedral of Venice. Exterior is decorated with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic art, the west facade is composed of two orders of five recessed arches, supported by clusters of columns whose capitals were carved in the 12th and 13th centuries. The delicate pinnacles and other decorations at the top of the facade are Gothic additions of the 14th and 15th centuries.

Sacred Destination -The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Old City of Jerusalem

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Old City of Jerusalem
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the Church of the Resurrection (Anastasis) to Eastern Orthodox Christians, is a church in the Old City of Jerusalem that is the holiest Christian site in the world. The Roman Emperor Hadrian erected a large platform of earth over the whole area for the construction of a temple to Venus.  A statue of Jupiter was on the site for 180 years (140-320 A.D.), when Constantine converted the empire to Christianity, he had the pagan temples dismantled, the earth removed and a Church built over the spot. Originally built by the mother of Emperor Constantine in 330 A.D., the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is believed to be constructed on the hill of crucifixion and the Church also includes the Empty Tomb where the Jesus Christ was buried (The Christ rose from the dead after three days). The original Byzantine church was destroyed by the Persians in 614 A.D.  Rebuilt shortly thereafter, the Egyptian Caliph Al-Hakim destroyed the Church in 1009 and had the Empty Tombdemolished to bedrock.
Ceiling of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Ceiling of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Photo credit: slack12)
The Crusaders rebuilt the church and much of what is standing today is from that time period. Inside the church is a rocky outcropping which is the traditional place where the cross was placed.   Archaeological excavations have demonstrated that this site was outside the city but close to one of its gates and thus would have been a good location for a crucifixion. Other first-century tombs are still preserved inside the Church.  "Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea" and other burial shafts (kokhim) are clearly from the time of Christ's death and attest to some kind of burial ground in the area. The eyewitness historian Eusebius claimed that in the course of the excavations, the original memorial was discovered. However, he also claimed that all three crosses (those of Jesus and the two thieves) were found at the site.  In recent times, a fire (1808) and an earthquake (1927) did extensive damage. Not until 1959 did the three major communities (Latin’s, Greeks, and Armenians) agree on a major renovation plan. The guiding principle was that only elements incapable of fulfilling their structural function would be replaced.
  • Unholy row erupts over Church of the Holy Sepulchre's water bill (