stained glass light on stone vaulting with the words 10 faves in a purple circle

We're sharing 10 of our favorite images inspired by the featured Cathedral theme. Catch up on all the galleries here!

10 Favorites: Music at the Cathedral

From one of the nation’s largest organs to the angelic voices of young choristers, music can be found in every corner of the Cathedral. Dive into ten of our favorite examples of the Cathedral’s rich musical history.

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10 Favorites: Memorial Day Imagery

No one has greater love than this,” Jesus reminds us, “than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” From stained glass to carved stone and grand statues, the Cathedral’s tributes to American heroes tell the story of sacrifice, bravery and a devotion to something greater than self. 

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10 Favorites: Animals in Cathedral Fabric

The Bible tells us that “living creatures of every kind” were created by God before Adam and Eve, and whether onboard Noah’s Ark or in the Bethlehem stable, animals are constant companions in Creation. From hand-stitched pandas to fearsome vultures and some ornery birds, the Cathedral art and architecture contains a zoological wonderland that delights both young and old. 

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Hidden Treasures: Boss Stones

Some of our favorite “hidden” treasures at the Cathedral are the many boss stones. A boss stone acts as a keystone in the soaring arches of the Cathedral, holding everything together. But since many of them are 10 stories off the floor, their detail and imagery can be hard to see. These mighty stones have a structural job to do, but also reflect the theology and belief that bind the church together.

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Flowers & Gardens in Cathedral Fabric

The Bible reminds us that God’s good creation began in a garden, so you won’t be surprised to see garden and floral themes throughout the Cathedral. From the stunning floral arrangements on the altar to hidden details in stained glass, stone and ironwork, countless references to flowers can be found all over the Cathedral, if you just know where to look.

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Gargoyles & Grotesques

Gargoyles and grotesques are one of the most recognizable features of Gothic churches. Depending on who you ask, they were originally meant to scare away evil spirits or to function as rain spouts – or both.  

 The Cathedral’s 112 gargoyles and 1,400+ carved grotesques are each hand-carved, and include everything from beatific angels to imaginary beasts to tongue-in-cheek commentary on good and evil. Come pick your favorite, and we won’t tell Darth Vader if you choose someone else.  

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Features of Gothic Architecture

Gothic is one of the world’s most recognizable architectural styles, known for its pointed arches, intricately carved stone, large stained glass windows and unimaginable attention to detail. 

Washington National Cathedral is modeled on 14th Century English Gothic style. The distinctive arches and buttresses from the Gothic renaissance allowed churches to rise higher and feature larger windows. Everything is designed to draw your eye upward, toward Heaven, and to reflect God’s majesty. 

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“Holy Week” in Cathedral Fabric

The Christian faith is anchored in the joy of Jesus’ victory over death, and much of the Cathedral’s iconography reflects the importance of Holy Week and the wonder of Easter.

High above the Sunday altar, a wooden carving depicts Christ on the cross, with Mary and John keeping watch.The lowest part of the Cathedral, the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, reflects the descent into the grave. And the glittering mosaics of the Chapel of the Resurrection tell of Jesus’ appearances after Easter. See images of these and others.

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Hidden Details of Stained Glass

There are a total of 215 stained glass windows in the Cathedral. The largest (the north rose) is 26 feet across. Many of the smaller windows are located in the towers and stairwells. Stained glass windows tell many stories, and while the full window may contain the “big picture” there are often surprises hidden in the details.

You may know that our Space window contains a sliver of moon rock, but did you know that our windows also feature sports, all manner of creatures from land and sea, the branches of government, and even a teddy bear?

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