Monday, September 13, 2010

From Catholicism to Judaism, Time to Worship

If you are downtown and happen to be near Richards and Dunsmuir then a stop at the Holy Rosary Cathedral is in order.

This cathedral is built in the french gothic style and was designed by architect T.E. Julien of the firm Julien and Williams, architects. It was started on July 16, 1899 when the first cornerstone was laid and 490 days later, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8, 1900 - the church opened. It was regarded by many to be the finest piece of architecture west of Toronto and north of San Francisco.

A statue of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception looks over the entrance and watches over those entering the church.

The cathedral is constructed of sandstone from Gabriola Island on a foundation of local granite. It is built in the form of a cross that is 161 feet long, 104 feet across at the transepts and 217 feet to the top of the tallest steeple.

In 1916 this Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was declared a cathedral.

I don't know what this piece of granite says but it looks important!
In the 110 years that the cathedral has been there it has gone through a few updates and upgrades but the Roman Catholic church has managed to always keep the essence of the past intact. From my research I am told that the interior is fantastic as well, including the church organ. I did enter the front part of the church but there were people sitting in the pews so I just looked through the glass doors, I didn't want to disturb them.

This church hold special memories for me. I am not Catholic but many years ago - around thirty to be precise - I was going to Barbizon Modelling School. I lived in Langley and each Saturday I would board a bus that would take me into the city. At fifteen years old I felt pretty important. At that time there was a bus depot down the street and I would have to walk by the Holy Rosary Cathedral to get to my classes. Sometimes I would quietly walk in and take a seat in a back pew. There I would sit for a few moments, taking in the peace and beauty around me. I can still close my eyes and remember how I felt, how settled it made me.

This building is, or I should say was, the  First Schara Tzedeck Synagogue. The original building was built in 1911 and is located at East Pender and Heatley Avenue. (across the street from the house where Vancouver's first undertaker lived.)  The name was originally Benei Yehuda which means Children (sons) of Judah. On June 14, 1917 the congregation was incorporated as Schara Tzedeck - Gates of Righteousness.

In 1948 the synagogue moved into new, larger quarters in the south Cambie neighbourhood.

The building is now home to condos. Some purists may find that offensive but in my opinion it is a great way to make use of a building that isn't being used as it was once intended and to give it new life. And the building gets to stay and be admired for many more years to come.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

TAGS:, , , ,,,,,

No comments:

Post a Comment