If Cathedrals Could Speak… Would We Listen?

by | Sep 30, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

The TV coverage of the Queen’s funeral allowed us to see the inside of Westminster Abbey from many anglesThe images remain in my mind… and started me thinking. The Abbey is rich in history and could tell many stories.

Westminster Abbey began as a Benedictine monastery in 960 AD.

Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have occurred in Westminster Abbey. Sixteen royal weddings have occurred at the Abbey since 1100.

For centuries, Westminster Abbey has been the burial site of notable figures from English and later British history

  • 17  monarchs
  • 3,300 people including Isaac Newton, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I explore the stained glass windows the great cathedrals as catechisms about God. I will also look at lessons of “the cathedral of creation.”

Catechisms before the printing press and internet

Cathedrals as catechisms

Years ago, I visited the famed Chartres Cathedral in France. Standing in awe, I looked at this collection of more than 200 chapters of biblical and church history.

An historian “read the stories” of selected windows. I realized I was “experiencing” the catechism in use for almost 1,000 years. A picture is worth a thousand words took on new meaning!

These windows were the main catechism for centuries.

Creation as the oldest catechism

Long before Jesus, the Book of Wisdom put it starkly…

How dull are all people who, from the things-that-are, have not been able to discover God-Who-Is, or by studying the good works have failed to recognize the Artist… Through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author. (Wisdom 13:1, 5)

Jesus himself commonly points to things like the red sky, a hen, lilies, the fig tree, a donkey caught in a pit, the birds of the air, the grass in the field, etc. . He was reading “the signs of the times’ in the seemingly “nonreligious” world.

Ordinary things all around him spoke volumes It is no accident that most of Jesus’ stories and metaphors are based on human and natural observations, not classroom theology.

No wonder St. Paul saw nature itself is the primary Bible.

Paul writes,

 “What can be known about God is perfectly plain, for God has made it plain. Ever since God created the world, God’s everlasting power and deity is there for the mind to see in all the things that God has created.” Romans 1:20

St. Francis thought of nature as the cathedral of creation.

September Season of Creation

Each September, leaders of the world’s 2.4 billion Christians call for all to unite in prayer and action for our common home.

This year they invite us to Listen to the Voice of Creation.” God’s creation moans ever louder and suffers more every day amidst the ongoing climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

In an earlier Mindwalk, I asked a tongue-in-cheek question.  What If God Required a Security Deposit on Our Common Home? “ Would we get our security deposit back after all the damage we have inflicted on it?

That image made me think twice about how we would treat God’s property!


  • Do I hear creation speaking of the wonders  God?
  • Can I also hear the cries of creation today?
  • Have I asked the Vincentian question “What can I… must I… do to care for the home God has given us?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk