We are avid fans of great architecture, particularly architecture from years past that has left an indelible mark on the community it lives in. We find that when you enjoy these buildings from the outside frequently you are left wondering what they look like inside. And in many cases what you find is not what you expect. In the case of our visit to Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, BC earlier this year, our expectations were far exceeded as we explored and discovered what has to be one of the most profound places we’ve visited so far. Thank you for joining us once again as we continue one of our favorite long-running photoblog series, “The Anglican Church Project” with the final installment of our sub-series that features “Christ Church Cathedral“. The entire gallery of 86 high quality photographs is available on our gallery site, please make sure you pop over to see the entire collection.
When observed from the outside, Christ Church Cathedral creates a dramatic presence right in the heart of the city. The scale of the building is evident immediately and you’re left with a distinct feeling that something special is held within those wonderful stone walls. You’d be right.
As soon as you enter the cathedral you are struck by a sense of awe and grandeur. The arches seem to reach for the heavens themselves and everywhere you look you find details and features that are very meaningful. How wonderful it must have been once the construction of this new church was complete for the growing community to have such a place to come and commune and share fellowship as the city literally sprung to life all around them. Even though the church itself is only over 80 years old, it is steeped in history and tradition that followed the cities settlers over from the UK. This bridge between the old and new world is evident in the cathedral, and the city proper.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine what life would have been like back then. In today’s day-and-age, we find ourselves living in a degree of comfort; the thermostat always just a reach away, vehicles readily and easily available to shuttle us around as we go about our daily lives, food easily accessed through a myriad of stores and choices within. But this was not always the case. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, many people left the known for the unknown, heading across a treacherous ocean to arrive on a foreign shore, full of hope and anticipation of a better life and future. The comfort you would find in the community and in a parish like this would have been the difference between simply arriving and finding a new home. It’s these very ties to the community and to each other that would have left everyone with a sense of belonging.
The love and appreciation for everything around them didn’t stop just in the people in the community, it also extended to the animals and wildlife of the area. If you look closely at the middle column near the top, you will notice a bird statue. This little statue has incredible significance to the church.
The “Robin Pillar” is a tribute to a determined little bird which build her nest near the capital of the south-eastern pillar of the Nave. Building operations at that point were suspended until her family had been launched out into the world. A stone model of the bird and nest marks the spot. You can see it if you run your eyes up the pillar to the capital.
We found it so heartwarming to learn of how the love for one another extended to include the compassion expressed for this little bird and her emerging family. This terrific story adds so much to the overall experience.
One of our very favorite features of the cathedral is most definitely the pipe organ. In this article, organ designer Hellmuth Wolff discusses the impetus behind the design and the challenges faced during construction and installation. For those who appreciate the enormity of an engineering task like this, it’s well worth the time to read.
On the day we visited we were blessed with the opportunity to hear this eloquent instrument in person as a young man came by the cathedral for practice. The deep tones and wonderful tonal ambiance of the organ was accented by the tall ceilings and expanse of the cathedral’s interior. The bass notes literally permeated our bodies, sending wave upon wave of delight through us as we experienced something we knew was so special. If you have a chance to experience this yourself, we highly encourage it.
The time we spent in discovery at Christ Church Cathedral was much more than just a photo-shoot. It was a personal journey that taught us a little about the city and area we love so much, the community that calls it home, and a little about ourselves through the process of self-revelation. It is widely said that a picture tells the story of 1,000 words, which we do find to be true here, but there is nothing that can replace a direct and personal experience with the wider world we live in.
As we wrap up our series on Christ Church Cathedral here, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this project come to life. If not for the kindness and generosity of time and spirit by so many this project would never have seen completion. For that we are eternally grateful.
As always, we love to hear from all our visitors. Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts you may have below. Thank you for visiting.