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St. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
A BRIEF HISTORY St Paul’s has offered thanksgiving and service to God since its foundation in 604 by St Mellitus. It continues to welcome Christians, those of other faiths and those who value its heritage. It has been resurrected several times, being rebuilt in 675, 962 and 1087. The massive medieval cathedral was one of the greatest Gothic buildings, its spire towering 150 metres high. Successive generation have continued to embellish it.
St Paul’s has celebrated many important events: the funerals of Nelson, Wellington and Churchill; the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II; the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Role models of successive generations are commemorated - political and martial figures, architects, artists, and scientists. This is a living place of worship, a portal to heaven committed to serving God in the world.
THE NAVE The nave leads from the West door to the dome. During major services the congregation sits here and choir process towards the altar. Three side chapels are dedicated to All Soul’s, St Dunstan (dedicated to private prayer) and Saints Michael and George. Monuments include the imposing memorial to Wellington. Where nave meets dome hang four new paintings by Sergei Chepik depicting Christ’s Incarnation, Ministry, Crucifixion and Resurrection.
UNDER THE DOME The altar, where the Eucharist is celebrated, sits beneath Wren’s great dome (one of the largest in the world) which he conceived as an observatory linking heaven and earth. Paintings by Thornhill depict the life of St Paul; statues portray doctors of both eastern and Old Testament prophets. In the Middlesex Chapel in the North transept is Holman Hunt’s ‘Light of the World’.
THE QUIRE The quire, leading to the high altar, is where the clergy and choir offer up praise and prayer to God, when not celebrating under the dome. It contains the ‘cathedra’, the bishop’s seat. At the East end is the American Memorial Chapel. Mosaics depict the Creation and other biblical scenes.
THE GALLERIES Inside the dome, 259 steps up, is the Whispering Gallery, where a whisper on one side can be heard 32 meters away on the other. Above this, on the outside of the dome, are the Stone Gallery, 378 steps up, and the Golden Gallery, 530 steps up, offering panoramic views across London.
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