The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, known as the Washington National Cathedral, is an Episcopal cathedral in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States. It is a listed monument on the National Register of Historic Places and the designated “National House of Prayer” of the United States. In 2007, it was voted one of the three most beautiful buildings in the United States in a survey by the American Institute of Architects.
The pulpit was carved out of stones from Canterbury Cathedral; Glastonbury Abbey provided stone for the bishop’s cathedra, his formal seat. The high altar is made from the ledge of rick in which Christ’s sepulchre was hewn.
There are other works of art including over two hundred stained glass windows, the most familiar of which may be the Space Window, honoring man’s landing on the Moon, which includes a fragment of lunar rock at its center. Most of the decorative elements have Christian symbolism, in reference to the church’s Episcopalian roots, but the cathedral is filled with memorials to persons or events of national significance; statues of Washington and Lincoln, state seals embedded in the mosaic floor of the narthex, state flags that hang along the nave, stained glass commemorating events like the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Interesting Facts and Figures:
* The Cathedral was completed eighty-three years to the day after it was begun (September 29, 1907 – September 29, 1990).
* The Cathedral nave, from the marble floor to the vaulting, is ten stories high.
* The central tower is 676 feet above sea level, making its top the highest point in the District of Columbia.
* The Cathedral weighs 150,000 tons.
* The north rose window is the Cathedral’s largest stained glass window at 26 feet in diameter.
* Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest in the world and the second largest in the U.S.
* The Cathedral has a staff of 200, as well as more than 1,100 volunteers.
* There are 110 gargoyles on the Cathedral.
* There are 215 stained glass windows in the Cathedral.
* There are 10,650 pipes in the great organ.
* The exterior of the Cathedral is almost the length of two football fields.
* The main exhibition case of the Rare Book Library occasionally displays the Cathedral’s first edition of the King James Bible, printed in London in 1611. This Bible belonged to Henry, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James.
* On March 31, 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached his last Sunday sermon at the Cathedral. A memorial service for King was held in the Cathedral five days later.
* More than 150 people are interred in the Cathedral, including Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller.