On Monday, July 13, our class took "The Tube" to St. Paul's cathedral (http://image.guim.co.uk/Travel/gallery/2007/may/01/uk.scotland/StPauls_Chung1-6623.jpg). This cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. The current structure was built in 1677, after the Great Fire of London destroyed the original one in 1666. Sir Christopher Wren was the architect who crafted this masterpiece, designed in the name of St. Paul, the patron saint of London. Wren did not come up with this design on his first try, there is an enormous wooden model of his first design on the same level as the library, this glorious design was pitched because it looked too much like the Vatican, the floor plan did not take the shape of a traditional cross, and it's construction would have caused an unnecessary disruption in church services. Perhaps the most incredible aspect of this building is that it survived the 1941 German Blitz during World War II, while everything around it was leveled(http://imagecache5.art.com/p/LRG/20/2012/9TP6D00Z/christopher-wren-st-pauls-cathedral-during-london-blitz-1940.jpg).
The building was described as text, because every detail can be read by the trained observer, most predominantly the conversion of St. Paul on the cathedral's central pediment(http://image38.webshots.com/38/2/89/90/2603289900095006798ofiXcz_fs.jpg) Our tour guide, Mr. John Wisdom was kind enough to take us beyond the tourist trap and into the cathedral's antiquated library. We had to climb 94 steps in a positively picturesque winding staircase to get to the library. On the walls of the library, we saw engravings of books, grapes, ears of wheat, and skulls that all spoke to the function of the room. The grapes and ears of wheat represented Holy communion and the innately spiritual purpose of this cathedral, the books indicated the importance of learning and the skulls represent Christ's triumph over death. The actual collection held in this library boasts 20,000 bibliographic items and 13,500 volumes. The materials are composed of various editions of the bible, and the subjects that support bible knowledge, such as theology, geography, genealogy, etc. The preservation of these materials seems to occupy the minds of the staff here with tasks like monitoring the humidity, temperature, and finding craftsmen that can meticulously provide new binding into very old books. In the future, the library hopes to digitize more of it's collection, as it deems appropriate, and get more of its materials into the OCLC system. This tour provided a spectacular and once in a lifetime experience of the church, and it made me appreciate its presence much more than I would have otherwise.