USA - Cathedral of St Joseph

This post is part of the CT bucket list

I have a confession to make..

I love churches and their architecture.

I love the pagan-inspired rituals they follow.

I adore the stained glass windows of an old church.

Anna and I have always felt at home in them, despite Christianity's often violent presence in colonization across the world.

I am able to truly feel awe at the hands of humans, and what humans can make when inspired.

The Cathedral of St Joseph is quite a momentous structure, and ever since my first time in Hartford, CT I wanted to do a tour of the place. I always came up with excuses as to why I wouldn't do it or couldn't do it.

3 years later here I am, walking into the lobby doors with Anna. I remember that the lady I spoke with on the phone set up a tour for me and mentioned going to the glass lobby doors on the far right to enter, and take the elevator up. 

Even the hallways seem grande, and I see a man approaching in a suit. He is here to meet me and give me an informational walkthrough of the building, it's history, and history of the catholic church to the extend that it relates to this building.

This church is the archdiocese of Hartford. Through my tour it is explained that the emblem for the archdiocese actually includes "a hart fording the river" which is why the city was actually named Hartford. Hart is an older terminology that may have derived from the medieval French word for stag. Hartford was a place where harts forded the river.

There is a Lithuanian cross built out to the side of where I enter. This was built by the Lithuanians who came here. It is an old structure and the names of those who built it are inscribed in the base.

The original photo of the cathedral along with news paper clippings are in various parts of the building. The cathedral was engulfed in flames in 1965, and the replacement looks quite different.

We enter through the side chapel to the left, the stained glass is breath taking. Each piece is individually attached via concrete, which is unlike the traditional lead method. It is the peak of the day and the light filters through in rainbow hues, painting the little chapel into a peaceful sanctuary.

To the front is the baptismal altar, with traditional items for use nearby.

As we curve to the right, we are enter the main sanctuary. This is where the mass is held. If the little panes of glass were breathtaking, the panes in here that dwarf me at 60' make me falter in my steps. This is not the original tower, but one that was rebuilt after a fire consumed the former. I know that he is saying something to me about the mosaics, but I am staring at the ceiling now.

They have spared no decoration, even the ceiling has stars. Vibrations filter through the air down from those stars. The organ is actually tuned down because they believed the stars would fall from the vibrations when they were put in. There is an organist playing in the organ pit, where the choir also sit. His view must be even more stunning than mine, as he sits in front of the final pane - Christ the King.

The panes are in threes, depicting various scenes from the Bible, I am told. I am particularly drawn to the purple hued woman, sweeping the floor. I ask what that particular pane relates to - which story does the crone have? I find out that she is part of the series called "The Saviour and Work" and is sweeping her house to find a lost coin.

The spirituality of this place overwhelms me. I love places of worship, I love their energy. I know that churches haven't always been places of love or comfort to all, and how tied they are into white colonization. Despite this, I find that the inner innocence prevails for me. A place made holy by the intent to heal, even if we all disagree on what needs healing.

Anna lays on the floor, even she feels so comfortable here as to collapse with the energy. I envied her, to nearly roll into the floor and laze in the warm light shining down. I am part cat clearly, I laugh to myself as we head to the back first.

Etchings cover the glass at the rear, and holy water in containers is available for people to take home. Blessed water for personal use. I am no catholic, and wonder if this is normal. I find it endearing, the same as when witches exchange moon water lovingly imbued with healing and strength wishes for the user it is passed to.

As we go up the stairs to visit the choir and organ pit I am speechless. I see what the organists view looks like, and it is perhaps the best view.

We meander back down and through an area that the bishop and members get ready in. Some artifacts and blessed oil is kept here, and photos of the original tower.

Circling back to the front I learn that each altar in a catholic church as part of it's sacredness receives a shard of a Saint. It is crafted inside the altar. A splinter of bone within the altar is nothing new to me. Pagans often have bone collections on altars. I smile thinking of how similar the religions are.

Behind the large altar is a mosaic of the Revelation, Christ's second coming. It's the largest mosaic in the world I am told. It's massive.

Behind this main altar are rooms for various patron saints. I find Brigid's the most appealing, thinking that I may come back here to pray to her. Brigid was worshipped by pagans as well. Anna steps into the prayer area as we are passing the room and I grin. I wonder if even she knows? Do animals sense deity presence?

The right side has a small chapel as well, with the tabernacle placed in center. The wall behind is elaborate- copper carved and silver coated. In the back, a little old woman is reading a book. I suddenly feel the urge to come here for the same. It is a euphoric happiness.

I look down on the way back towards the entry, and we discuss how the marble flooring was quarried in Italy, and is covered in fossils of some snail like creature. Dead things everywhere, just like the pagans. So much alike, and yet worlds apart.

The Cathedral of St Joseph provides free tours, but you must call ahead and schedule. My tour was about an hour and a half, and fascinating. The history of the church and the religion was provided. The church has seen so much, and has such a story to tell. It is worth a visit, I highly recommend. It is located in Hartford, CT, USA.

Masses are held Monday thru Friday at 7:30 and 12:10, Saturday at 9:00 and 16:00, Sunday 8:30 and 11:00.


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