Detail from St. Paul’s Cathedral

Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, is one of my big heroes. This masterpiece was erected in only 33 years. Regarding the enormous amount of work in the Baroque style that was not a long time. Imagine the mathematics mastermind he had this outstanding architect!

Much of London had burnt down in 1666 in what was called “The Great Fire” and that allowed introducing to England a worthy cathedral inspired by the Italian Baroque style. Christopher Wren built 50 other churches in the same period.

During the Blitz in WWII Churchill said that  St. Paul’s should be protected at all costs from the bombs “The second great fire of London”.

The iconic photo from the Blitz in December 1940

The iconic photo from the Blitz in December 1940

The firemen did a glorious job running around on the dome 53-85 metres above ground level, throwing sandbags on the many bombs and it was saved though much of the surrounding areas were levelled and lay in rubbles. The sight of the Cathedral heightened the morale of the British during the war.

War memorial for the many firemen who lost their lives saving St. Paul´s Cathedral

War memorial for the many firemen who lost their lives saving St. Paul´s Cathedral

The detail I would like to write about is a famous Christian painting by William Holman-Hunt called “The Light of the World”. It is from the so-called “Pre-Raphaelite movement and was completed in 1904, toured around the world where millions of people have seen it. It was purchased by Charles Booth and donated to St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1908. It’s a sermon in a frame.

“The Light of the World” by William Holman-Hunt painted in 1904

When I was a young Christian in the 70s, I was given a postcard with this picture, and it really spoke to me and comforted me. It was like the Word became alive and personal. This was just for me. His Love, His patience, His Salvation just for me. Jesus the Savior is knocking at an old wooden door that has never been opened. He is not forcing Himself on anybody but waits to come in when invited.

The knocking on the door theme can be found in the last book of the Bible, the Revelation chapter 3:20. I am the light of the World is in John 8:12

A few days ago I revisited the Cathedral and spent hours there. An engaged and very knowledgeable guide showed us around, but let us take the many steps to the three galleries, the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery, in the dome on our own. The interior has not been so clean as now. The occasion is the 300th anniversary.

I had somehow forgotten that the original painting hung in St. Paul´s Cathedral, where I had been a few times. What a joy to see the real portrait and just see the Word alive.


St. Paul’s Cathedral today image MH

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