Local church has a lot to be thankful for

December 5, 2008 1:37:22 PM PST
There is a lot to be thankful for at Saint John the Divine, one of the top five tourist spots in Manhattan.The Episcopalean cathedral opens its doors to people of all faith. And this weekend, it will re-dedicated the renovated church, which was damaged years ago in a fire.

More than 750,000 people visit it each year and all say it's breathtaking and enormous.

Breathtaking and enormous, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the world's largest gothic cathedral.

The eastern-most section features Byzantine architecture, with its curved arches. But for the past seven years, it was hard to get a sense of what was what, because all of it was being repaired.

"Smoke and soot came thorough the cathedral and that did a huge amount of damage," Rev. Dr. James Kowalski said.

Reverend Kowalski remembers the fire, which broke out a week before Christmas in 2001.

It started in what was the gift store, and it burned two tapestries and left four others discolored.

The organ had to be taken apart and every inch of limestone and granite had to be cleaned, and after extensive work, the scaffolding is down and the cathedral is sparkling again.

To celebrate, the 248-foot long nave will be re-dedicated in a Sunday service, 67 years after the nave was first dedicated.

The organ will play again and newly restored tapestries will soon be rehung.

All in all, the renovation was a $41 million project, but, in fact, there's more work to be done because the cathedral was never actually completed.

The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1892, but even now, the transepts and the western facade's towers haven't been finished.

But for now, there's plenty to be thankful for at St. John the divine.

For more information on the cathedral, go to, www.stjohndivine.org.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Scott Curkin

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