ROCKEFELLER CENTER, Saint Patrick's Cathedral Exterior

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest Neo-Gothic church in North America, and will remain so until the completion of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

The marble structure rising before your eyes, with its unmistakable spires, was built in the second half of the 19th century. If you observe the façade that looks onto Fifth Avenue, it almost seems as if the building is trying to make space for itself among the tall skyscrapers that have surrounded it over the years, to the point where they literally overshadow the Cathedral.

However, as you can easily imagine, when the building work was completed – after being halted by the Civil War – it was the Cathedral, with its two high bell towers reaching almost 100 meters, that overshadowed everything and everyone around it!

The original plans for the plot of land were for the construction of a Catholic school, although this project was subsequently abandoned in favor of an orphanage. Later, Archbishop John Joseph Hughes decided to replace the Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, located in Little Italy, with a new one, built over the remains of the orphanage.

Before you enter through the bronze central portal, topped with an imposing rose window, take a look behind you at the poor Atlas of the Rockefeller Center, who, as he supports the weight of the celestial vault, seems to be trying to take a quick peek inside the cathedral.

Before I finish, you might be wondering why such a huge Catholic place of worship, dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland, was built in a mainly Protestant country. In fact, when the project was undertaken, the Catholic Irish accounted for a quarter of the population of the island of Manhattan.

AN INTERESTING FACT: this cathedral has provided an appealing setting not only for the weddings of famous couples such as Liza Minelli and David Gest, whose marriage was attended by hundreds of stars, including Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson, to name just two, but also for a number of famous funerals, including those of Joe DiMaggio and Andy Warhol; sadly, however, the most moving event of all hosted here was undoubtedly the mass celebrated in honor of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.



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