Historic Church Tour #8

November 2008

New York City

Click on photo for high resolution picture.


On our way once again.

Driving through Central Park, 843 wooded and landscaped acres consisting of gardens, lakes, ice-skating rinks, a swimming pool, carousel and the Central Park Zoo.

The Fabbri Mansion was deeded to a Board of Trustees by Mrs. Edith Fabbri in 1949 with the intent that it be a ''Retreat House for the glory of God and the good of souls."

The Fabbri Mansion was built between 1914 and 1916 in the Italian Renaissance style to serve as the town residence of Edith Shepard Fabbri, great-granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, and her husband, Ernesto Fabbri.

Main stairway going to the second floor

The woodwork in the library, including this carved mantlepiece, was constructed for the 16th century Ducal Palace in Urbagna and purchased by Edith Fabbri at the start of WWI. The woodwork was shipped to the US on two different vessels so that at least half of the room would survive if one ship was torpedoed.

The player organ in the gallery was used to accompany the silent movies that Mrs. Fabbri would show her guests after dinner parties. A projection booth is located directly above the organ.

Social customs of the early 20th century dictated that servants remain out of sight except when expressly wanted. Inconspicuous doorways on either side of the library entrance lead to winding stairways like these that provided access for the servants from floor to floor.

Lunch time in the dining room

The construction of St. Patrick's Cathedral started slowly in 1858, but the Civil War and lack of funds halted construction. After the war ended, work progressed steadily and the Cathedral opened in 1879.

The twin steeples of the Gothic-style building are 330 feet high and were raised in the late 1880's.

Each of the great bronze doors weighs 20,000 pounds (10 tons each !!). On the ouside of the doors are figures of American saints and above the doors on the inside are the heraldic arms of Cardinal Francis Spellman during whose episcopacy the doors were built.

The Great Organ contains 7,855 pipes ranging in length from 1/2 inch to 32 feet. One set of pipes is located separately from the organ itself which gives the impression of a separate organ.

The Rose Window is 26 feet in diameter, was made by the firm of Charles Connick in Boston and installed in 1947. The theme is angels and the eight petals symbolize the eight beatitudes given by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.

Four galeros, the red hats formerly presented to cardinals by the popes as a sign of their office, hang from the ceiling high above the sanctuary. By tradition, the galeros were hung after the death of the cardinal.

Originally the Cathedral ended immediately behind the semi-circle of pillars behind the high altar and baldachin. When the Cathedral was expanded with the addition of the Lady Chapel, the original high altar with it's towering reredos (back panels) seemed architecturally inappropriate. The originals, made in St. Brieuc, France and Rome, Italy, respectively, were replaced with ones made in Boston. The current great baldachin is made entirely of bronze.

The titular window of the Cathedral, the window of the saint after whom the Cathedral is named, contains 18 panels, each depicting a scene from the life of St. Patrick. Notice the two colors of the ceiling above the window. Years of grime have been cleaned from the right side.

We look up and listen as our guide gives us information and history of the Cathedral.

The great window opposite St. Patrick's window is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. The 18 panels depict her life, death and Assumption to Heaven. In the center of the area above the panels is Mary's Coronation.

Statue dedicated to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born saint.

This statue of the Pieta is 3 times larger than Michelangelo's original in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The crypt, resting place of the remains of the Archbishops of New York and others closely associated with St. Patrick's.

Tomb of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Servant of God, first of four steps in being declared a Saint.

Tomb of Terence Cardinal Cooke, Servant of God

Tomb of Pierre Toussaint, Servant of God and declared Venerable in 1996 by Pope John Paul II

Radio City Music Hall, 1932 Art Deco theatre and home of the Rockettes.

Formerly Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed after the Times Building, the former offices of the New York Times, in 1904.

Flags surrounding the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza.

Morning prayer led by the Episcopal minister of the House of the Redeemer.

The chapel originally served as Edith Fabbri's formal drawing room and ballroom. The carved mantel, which now serves as the reredos for the altar, and the coffered ceiling were both part of the Fabbri's collection of architectural fragments. The triptych over the altar was painted by The Rev. John Walsted and donated to the House in 2001.

The crucifix was also painted by Rev. Walsted.

Morning Mass

Morning Mass

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is the largest cathedral in the world. Much of the cathedral was closed due to cleaning and restoration from a 2001 fire.

The cornerstone was laid on St. John's Day, December 27, 1892.

On Sunday November 30,1941, the opening of the full length of the Cathedral was celebrated. At 601 feet, "Two football fields, end to end, with room left for the football," became the popular imagery of this magnificent length of uninterrupted space.

The 40 foot Great Rose window is the largest in the United States and contains over 10,000 pieces of glass. The figure of Christ at the center is 5 feet 7 inches tall.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine Francesca Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850, in Italy, took religious vows in 1877 and added Xavier to her name, in honor of the Jesuit priest Francis Xavier.

Mother Cabrini, along with 6 other sisters who professed their vows with her, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on November 14, 1880. Although her lifelong dream was to be a missionary in Chine, Pope Leo XIII sent her to New York City.

Mural behind the shrine altar depicting the highlights of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini's life.

We listen as Sister tells us the story of St. Frances Cabrini.

Mother Cabrini was naturalized as an American citizen in 1909 and canonized on July 7, 1946 by Pope Pius XII. She is the patron saint of immigrants and hospital administrators.

Venerating a relic of St. Frances Cabrini

Oh looky, someone got a picture of the photographer.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine, the chapel was built on the site of the Seton home. The Setons lived here from 1801-1803, before going to Italy for her husband's health, however William Seton died there in December 1803. Elizabeth converted to Catholicism on March 14, 1805 at St. Peter's Church in New York City and was received into the Church by John Carroll, first bishop of Baltimore.

Elizabeth established her first school on Paca Street in Baltimore in 1808, took her religious vows in March 1809, received the title of "Mother" and in June 1809 moved to Emmitsburg.

Altar and wall of chapel of the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Stained glass window behind shrine altar.

Statue of Liberty and ferry

Ellis Island was the main entry facility for immigrants entering the US from January 1, 1892 until November 12, 1954

The Statue of Liberty was presented to the US by the people of France and welcomes visitors, immigrants and returning Americans. The copper-clad statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and commemorates the centennial of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence and was given to the US to represent the friendship established during the American Revolution.

Ellis Island is managed by the National Park Service although both New Jersey and New York share claims to the island.

Lady Liberty is 151 feet high from her base to the top of the torch, 305 feet including the pedestal. An index finger is 8 feet long, an eye 2 1/2 feet across and she has a 35 foot waist.

New York City Skyline at dusk

Dinner time back at the Retreat House

News crews setting up for election night coverage at Rockefeller Plaza.

Red and blue lit building on election night 2008

Lots and lots of people in Times Square watching the election results.

Morning Mass

And even another picture of the photographer

St. Peter's Church is the Mother Church of New York as it is the oldest parish in New York City and State, first established in 1785. The cornerstone of the present Greek Revival building with six columns was laid in 1836.

Interior of Old St. Peter's Church, the church was consecrated in 1885.

Wall behind the altar of St. Peter's Church showing the crucifixion of both Christ and St. Peter. Peter was crucified upside down after he reputedly stated that he was not worthy to die as Jesus did.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was received into the Catholic Church at St. Peter's and made her First Communion in 1805, received Confirmation in 1806, and was canonzied in 1975.

Rear of St. Peter's Church showing the balcony where Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853), 'Catholic Negro layman member of Old St Peter's Parish for 66 years revered for his exemplary life and many good works of charity' would have worshipped before desegragation. Pierre was born a Catholic slave in Haiti and has been declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1996, the second step toward sainthood.

The Cross at Ground Zero, girder that had been part of a building at the World Trade Center, was found on September 13, 2001, blessed on October 4, 2001 and temporarily relocated to the side of St. Peter's Church on October 5, 2006. The cross will be moved to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum when it is completed.

Ongoing work at the site of the September 11, 2001 attack.

The steeple of St. Paul's Chapel in the background of the World Trade Center site.

St. Paul's Chapel, completed in 1766, is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use and its remaining colonial church. The chapel survived the fire that swept Manhattan on September 21, 1776, destroying over 500 structures and was host to President George Washington on Inauguration Day, April 30, 1789.

Graveyard of St. Paul's Chapel, Trinity Parish.

After September 11, 2001, the wrought iron fence surrounding St Paul's was transformed into a spontaneous memorial when thousands of visitors posted ribbons and numerous personal items.

The Bell of Hope was created by Whitechapel Foundry which had cast the Liberty Bell and London's Big Ben. The pedestal base was built locally from eastern brownstone, one of the most recognizable materials used in New York City buildings. Inlaid on top of the pedestal, directly beneath the bell is a brass footprint of the World Trade Center Towers. The bell was presented on September 11, 2002 and is in recognition of the enduring links between the city of London and the city of New York. It has been rung on every anniversary of Sept. 11 and also on the days of terrorist attacks internationally symbolizing the triumph of hope over tragedy.

Group picture New York City 2008

  Photography and Captions by Sharon Seckens

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