The Reredos, Christ Church Cathedral

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I’m consistently impressed with the quality of sculpture in St. Louis churches.  Sadly, when churches are abandoned, these beautiful stone works of art are usually the first to be targeted by vandals.  In isolated cases, people of integrity are able to get ahold of these sculptures and preserve them, either in their original form or altered for new uses.  Luckily, such concerns are not needed at Christ Church Cathedral, where the great reredos in the apse stands proud and well-used.

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I find it interesting, in contrast to the many, many churches I have visited in Europe, the comparative lack of large (or even small) altar paintings over the high altar or even side chapels.  Instead, it seems that sculpture reigns as the preferred method of decorating churches, whether Catholic or Protestant.




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Below the Crucifixion, flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist, sits the Nativity.

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Arranged around the main compositions are dozens of saints; while they’re labeled, it’s a fun game to see if you can identify the saint by his or her attributes.

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It has long been a tradition over the centuries to show an army of saints on either side of Christ and the Virgin Mary.  Duccio’s Maesta in Siena is one such example.



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The sun was just beginning to shine through the stained glass windows, causing colored light to flicker across the white stone.

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  1. I’ve always thought that the reredos at Christ Church Cathedral were amongst the finest in the city. I recently discovered that this work of art was inspired by the 15th Century reredos at St Albans Cathedral in England.

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