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The Old Cathedral, Exterior

I’m glad they didn’t tear down or move the Old Cathedral, but I wish they wouldn’t have left it so stranded in the middle of an interstate on one side, and an incongruous park on the other. Here are various shots of the exterior façade from different angles and croppings. It is the fourth church on site, and the first in the Greek Revival style. It was designed by Joseph Laveille and George Morton.

The Hebrew letters in the pediment spell YHWH, the word for God, but today is often translated as Elohim, which is actually the plural form of El. It is a part of speech known as “plural of majesty;” speakers of other Indo-European languages know that there are examples of using plural forms for formal speech. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament where it is understood that Elohim should be interpreted as a single God speaking (the accompanying verb is in the singular conjugation), instead of using the single noun form, which is also used at other times.

The Latin phrase above the door is often translated in an awkward way, and it should more properly be translated as:

“[This church is] dedicated to the One God and Trinity in the Year of [Our] Lord 1834 in Honor of St. Louis”

Many translations use “Triune” instead of “Trinity,” which is technically accurate, but I was taught to translate Latin into contemporary English and to avoid archaisms and words that no one uses anymore. It is more modern and less awkward to use Trinity.

Likewise, while we translate the supine verb form “Dicatum” as “Dedicated,” that is using a modern translation. More specifically, it merely meant “to show” or “to point out.” Many Classical Latin words gained new meaning in Medieval and Early Modern Latin. As is typical, the auxiliary verb, “est,” or “is” in Latin is left out after Dicatum and understood as is common in Classical texts.

As you might have noticed, the Latin words are written left to right in almost completely the opposite order as we would say or write them in English. That frequently happens in Latin.

French, English and Latin appear throughout the front façade; below this inscription says, ” My house will be called the house of prayer.” It comes from Matthew 21:13. It says the same thing in English on the other side of the front portal.

The three inscriptions in English, Latin and French in the recessed entrance all say the same thing, just in three different languages, as well, “Behold the Tabernacle of God with Men, and He Will Dwell With Them.” This comes from the Book of Revelations 21:3. I’ve taken pictures of them before, I just realized.

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