Bryn Athyn Cathedral Lighting Ceremony

Photographers seek out the light. It sculpts, it enhances and it invites so when I heard that Bryn Athyn Cathedral would be having their anniversary lighting celebration, I was drawn to be there.

John Pitcarin came from Scotland in the early 1800’s. Born from a state of poverty, he went on to found PPG industries and buy property outside of Philadelphia. John may have been highly influenced by his classmate, Andrew Carnegie in gaining his wealth. On April 18, 1885, a son Raymond was born and he later became a very successful lawyer and collector of medieval art. As his father created wealth from poverty, Raymond took the vacant tract of land and in 1913, decided to begin building a medieval cathedral to become the seat for “The New Church” also known as Swedenborgianism. This religion was started by the Swedish scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg who related the revelations he recieved during heavenly visions. He taught that God would replace the traditional Christion Church and establish a “New Church”.

Bryn Athen Cathedral is said to resemble Cloucester Cathedral in England. Asymmetries and irregularities were all planned into the building. There are no straight lines which then serves to soften the archetectural design and draws in Grecian refinement. One of the philosphical stances of “The New Church” is that God loves variety so doors, keys, metal work etc. are each unique when one looks closely. There are many guides available each Sunday to take visitors on a tour of this exquisite cathedral. (Many thanks to Suzy Laidlaw for taking such time and sharing her vast knowledge with me).

Right next door is a castle which was originally the private residence of Raymond and now is the Glencairin Museum. It houses a beautiful collection of religious art from around the world and is open to visitors.

June 18th is the anniversary of the founding. For three days, light sculpts and enhances the cathedral, the castle and the magnificent gardens. Tonight will be the last night and it is celebrated by inviting everyone to picnic on the grounds, listen to beautiful music and take in this great expanse which basically emerged from impoverished roots, determination and vision. If you would like to sit out on a summer night with a medieval castle and medieval cathedral as your backdrop…this spot is for you! The location for anyone able to visit is: 900 Cathedral Road, Bryn Athyn, PA 19009.
So glad I followed the light and learned fascinating stories of religion, archetecture, and history.

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.

One thought on “Bryn Athyn Cathedral Lighting Ceremony”

  1. WOW – you certainly soaked up a LOT of information that evening…me thinks you did some homework, however!

    Your photographs are fabulous – thank you so much for taking the time to help spread the word about how lovely our beautiful church building is. I think it is clear that it was built with a lot of love and care.

    We all had such a good time doing this meet and greet thing that they are talking about reprising it later in the summer. I will try to remember to come back here to let you know, in case you want to come back for more. And there are always LOTS more stories to tell!

    Thanks again,

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