Lenten Quiet Morning : Architectural Meditations

Anyone who visits Los Angeles will find his visit incomplete who does not make a pilgrimage to St. John’s Church.

A few weeks after the consecration of St. John’s Church in 1925, a writer spent Holy Week and Easter Day visiting the many new churches in the growing city of Los Angeles. Of all the new churches seen by the correspondent for The Churchman, “St. John’s Church is by far the most beautiful and artistic . . . there is nothing in the country like it. It is different. It is the old world set down in the new. It is like a diamond sparkling its radiant beauty of such rarity that one goes and comes and goes again to see this lovely church.”

Over ninety years later, even longtime Angelinos visit St. John’s Cathedral for the first time and exclaim, “I had no idea there was anything like this in Los Angeles!” For those who have the privilege of worshipping here week after week, it is easy to forget the impression made by that first visit, easy to allow the art and architecture to recede into the background instead of engaging it for fresh insights.

For this Lenten pilgrimage, five images from our historic building have been selected for what they have to say about the Passion of our Lord. Two would have been seen by the visitor in 1925, two more date from the first two decades, and one is a later addition. Some are seen by all every Sunday, others less so. Each is in a different medium: stone, glass, paint, wood, and mosaic. All point to what artists, architects, clergy, and parishioners believed was important to say about our faith.

Any discussion of our historic building would be incomplete without mentioning The Rev’d George Davidson, D.D. On April 1, 1913, that Father Davidson began his long tenure as Rector, serving until 1951. His vision and leadership inspired the people of St. John’s to pray and give to build this house of prayer for all people.