Exploring the Washington National Cathedral with Sheer Awe

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The Washington National Cathedral boasts of stained glass windows featuring a moon rock that was gifted to the cathedral by astronauts of 1969’s Apollo 11 mission as a memento. Dr. Thomas O. Paine, the administrator of NASA, associated with Rodney Winfield, an artist from St. Louis, in the designing and construction of the ‘Space Window’, which would feature the stone. The stained glass window in National Cathedral depicting planets and stars in tints of green, blue, orange, red, and white, takes cues from the photographs captured from the first manned mission to moon onboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

The moon rock was installed in the middle of a planet and in the stained glass windows’ top half. The astronauts collected the lunar rock, weighing over 7 grams and tracing back to about 3.6 billion years on approximate, from the ‘Sea of Tranquility’. The moon rock was gifted in a ceremony held on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of Apollo 11 to the National Cathedral by the Apollo 11 astronauts, Thomas Paine acting as the benefactor of the window and the then administrator of NASA Dr. James C. Fletcher. American President Richard Nixon would approve gifting it as a memento earlier in 1974.

The hundreds of stained glass windows are an attraction in and of itself in the Cathedral of Episcopal Church in Washington DC. Often referred to as the Space Window, the unique stained glass masterpiece in the cathedral exemplifies an intersection of a religious thought in tune with scientific exploration and mysteries of the unknown universe to mankind. It is situated to the cathedral’s south.

The Gothic-looking cathedral also boasts of a gargoyle, resembling Darth Vader, on top of the tower with an entrance below it. Spotting the Darth Vader gargoyle from here will take some closer inspection from the part of the onlookers. Face east for that standing at the entrance and follow a line until you spot a peak amidst two giant windows. Two gargoyles are carved at the side of the peak and Darth Vader’s grotesque is the one to the right.

Before one even walks into the cathedral, the gargoyle of the antagonist from George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise brings an element of sci-fi in addition to a motif devoted to space. The cathedral is an attraction place to visit through DC bus tours alongside other tourist attractions in the city capital.

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