Monday, October 03, 2011


Although I’ve been to England before and explored cathedrals and abbey ruins, on this trip I cannot get over how . . . well, how big some high medieval houses of worship were/are.

York Minster, which I am presently spending a lot of time exploring, is huge. It claims to be the largest cathedral in Northern Europe. Even the chapter house is imposing. And the famous East Window (now under a massive reconstruction. I do hope I get to see it one day.) is bigger than a tennis court.

But it’s not just York Minster. Close by are the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. The size of that impresses.

Earlier from Durham, I made a walking pilgrimage to the ruins of Finchale Priory. I had never heard of the place until my last day in Durham and decided on the spur of the moment to go there. It is a mostly pleasant walk through countryside. I ate blackberries by the path to keep my energy up.

The ruins of the abbey were both more intact and larger than I expected. It is a beautiful and imposing place. And, yes, the priory was big.

The size of such houses of worship speaks still to medievals’ powerful desire to glorify God. And it certainly discredits any delusion that the middle ages were a backward time. Centuries later, the work and technology that went into constructing York Minster and a multitude of cathedrals and abbeys still astounds.

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