This very impressive religious building is located along Military Road which is on top of the hill which St John's is located. It dominates the St John's skyline and cannot be missed when you are there. Very beautiful place indeed !
The Cathederal of St. John the Baptist services the oldest Anglican Parish in North America and the graveyard, itself, is far older. The Parish if St. John the Baptist was consecrated in 1699 by an Army Chaplain named John Jackson, who was a priest for the Garrison of Fort William.
Several churches have been built on the location. The Old Anglican Graveyard was the resting place for sailors of many different nationalities, soldiers who garrisoned Fort William and residents of Newfoundland. There are thousands of graves in the Old Anglican Graveyard, including sea captains, privateers and lots who died of cholera. Many were poor immigrants from England, France or Ireland who succumbed to ship-feaver before arriving at New York, Boston or Montreal.
Both the Anglican Cathedral and Basilica are dedicated to St. John the Baptist. I think that's because legend has it that John Cabot landed in this area on John the Baptist feast day. I visited the cathedral and was surprised to see that the cathedral had a wooden beamed roof! I was offered a free tour by a young lady sitting near the entrance doing cross stitch to pass the time in between visitors and she said the previous cathedral also had a wooden roof which was why it was gutted by fire in 1892 but rebuilt the same way.
There was a small museum in a side area and the stained glass was exquisite. The windows have all been made since the fire except for two surviving ones from the 1880's and the various windows have been created over the decades right up to one installed and dedicated this past June. It was fascinating to compare the styles of the artists over the years. My favourites consistently seemed to be the ones created from about 1905 to 1915. I don't know if it was the style or the colours which tended to be more muted and more whites and reds than the brighter, clearer glass of the 40's and 50's.
In the crypt/lower level of the cathedral is a tea room which may be open only seasonally. For $4.50 (in 1997) you received with your coffee or tea, a plate of scone wedges and muffins and a plate of sweets and squares.
Along Military Road rises the stone Catholic Basilica dedicated to St. John the Baptist. On one side is a little museum with old religious artifacts and the rooms displaying the artistic endeavours of the Sisters of Charity where I was awestruck by some illuminated script one nun painted over 100 years ago and quite impressed by some of the exquisite embroidery.
The basilica has a beautiful painted ceiling over the plaster mouldings and has nice stained glass and statues.
Established here in St. John's in 1699, this is the oldest Anglican parish in Canada. It is also one of the finest example of Gothic architecture in North America.
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