About a year ago I traveled to St. Louis for a surprise 60th birthday party for my brother.  I have always wanted to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis because of my love for both churches and mosaics (also two of my favorite things to see in Europe!).  There are over 83,000 square feet of mosaics in this church created by 20 different artists over a 75 year period.

My pictures don't do it justice; this church has to be seen in person.

Construction of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis began in 1907.  The architecture of the exterior is Romanesque, with granite walls, rose windows and two massive towers.  The brilliant green-tiled main dome and the pitched roofs are a prominent sight in the St. Louis skyline.

This is just the narthex...

Many of the mosaics on the narthex's walls depict the life of the patron saint of the city, Louis IX, King of France:

And the narthex's barrel vaulted ceiling is covered by a swirling green vine symbolic of Christ, who is also portrayed in the central mosaic:

It's impossible to describe the beauty of this church.  Walking into the main part of the church, I just gasped at the incredible beauty.  Standing at the back of the church I could only marvel that every inch is covered in brilliant mosaics.

In the photo above you can just make out the red mosaics of the great central dome.  The photo below shows the central dome in all its brilliance.  The dome rises 143 feet from the floor to the central spotlight.  The mosaic panels are dedicated to, clockwise from the top: the woman of the Apocalypse; Ezekial the Prophet; the Holy Trinity; and Elias taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot.  The sixteen angels between the windows of the dome represent eight archangels and eight commemorative angels.  The four large angels of the pendentives depict, clockwise from the top right: Ecclesiastical authority; New Testament; Old Testament; and civil authority.

The great seal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis on a dark blue background and surrounded with the stars of the heavens is the dominant mosaic on the historic dome.  On these pendentives are mosaics of American saints.
The east transept mosaic portrays Christ's resurrection and His appearance to the woman, Mary, and His disciples at Emmaus.
The west transept mosaic, rendered in flaming colors of red, violet and blue pictures the occasion of the Holy Spirit's descent on the apostles inspiring them to go forth and preach the Word of God.

In the sanctuary dome mosaics picture the twelve apostles...

The dome of the baldachino imitates the main exterior dome of the Cathedral...
The white marble figure of Christ crucified dominates the sanctuary.

The red color of this ambulatory ceiling recalls the suffering of Christ...
At the end of this ambulatory is a statue of Louis IX...
The Bishop's Hall contains Italian style mosaics of the coats of arms of the men who have served as bishops and archbishops of the St. Louis diocese.

The Blessed Virgin's Chapel created by Tiffany and Company...
The All Saints Chapel is also the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany...
The magnificent Arch of Triumph has Christ the Savior as its central motif.  John the Baptist is on His left with the prophets and kings of the Old Testament and the Virgin Mary is on His right with apostles and saints of the New Testament.
This church is one of the most magnificent I've ever seen.

With mosaics as beautiful as any I've seen in anywhere...

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
St. Louis, MO   63108
  • Cathedral is open every day from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
  • Tours are offered daily between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
  • Contact the tour office at 314.373.8240 for tour reservations.
  • I encourage everyone to visit the cathedral to experience the beauty of the mosaics, but remember only tours are guaranteed to people who have reservations.
  • For more information: http://www.cathedralstl.org/

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