Monday, July 15, 2013


Bastille Days, Milwaukee's street fair celebrating things French, is held on Cathedral Square in the downtown area.  During our visit to the festival last weekend, we noticed that the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist (St. John's), the seat of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, was open to visitors, so we took a little impromptu self-guided tour.

Construction on the cathedral was begun in 1847, less than two years after Milwaukee's incorporation as a city, and was completed in 1853.  Major and controversial changes to the interior were completed in 2002 and the cathedral was rededicated at that time.  Here is a shot of the cathedral's exterior.

On the initial visit I had my camera but not my tripod, so all my shots were handheld, despite the low-light conditions common to church interiors.  I then came back a couple of days later with my tripod.  Even though the amount of light in the interior was reduced, something that a camera notices much better than we humans do, the church's interior gave an appearance of light.   It was a day of bright sunshine and the church has abundant and large stained glass windows.  Also, the church interior was pretty lit up, to welcome the Bastille Days visitors.  In addition, the predominant color of the walls is a light pastel.  Here is an initial view looking toward the sanctuary as wide-angled as I could muster with my lens.

A most striking aspect of this church is a crown of thorns and very stylized crucifix that are suspended above a white marble altar that has been moved from the sanctuary area into the nave.  A portion of the church's pipe organ now occupies the back of the apse, if I have my terms right.  Here are a couple of closer shots of the crown of thorns and crucifix.  [Note what appears to be a wishbone or dowsing rod (?) that Christ is holding in his right hand.]

This is another shot looking toward the front of the church from the back left corner of the nave that shows off the white altar.

And here's a close-up of the altar.

As is often the case with major churches, the side aisles are also quite striking, as shown in the following shots.

Here is a shot of archwork separating the ceiling of the nave from that of a side aisle.

And a couple of the base of a pair of the pillars.

I guess I liked the simplicity of this shot.

I also took a couple of shots of the ceiling above the side aisle.

A bit disorienting, but I liked these shots.  The first was taken with the tripod--not that easy to line up with an undersized tripod pointed straight up.  I took the second simply by placing the camera on the floor and triggering the shot with my remote.

I was attracted also to some of the statuary in the church, including the following stern figure.

And the following of Pope John XXIII at the head of a side aisle.

(Surely that's a shadow of the pope's shepherd's hook and not a devil's tail peeping out from under his cloak.)

An interesting gated meditation garden is located on the north side of the church.  It includes a nicely rendered bronze statue of Pope John Paul II.

The contrasty quality of the light, as well as the black & white rendering, give this image an unusal quality, almost as if it were drawn in pencil rather than being a photograph.

The garden also includes a striking white marble statue of the Madonna and Child in front of a heavily ivied wall.  Here is close-up of the statue that I also converted to a black & white . . .

as well as the statue in the context of the ivied wall.

Finally, this sign appears on a door at the rear of the church.


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