Mosaic Mandalas of
St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis, Missouri

Part of the awesome ceiling of mosaic mandalas
in a chapel just off from the main Sanctuary.

      Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, I was aware of the enormous Cathedral, with its huge green dome, not far from the Chase Hotel in the city's picturesque Central West End. Not until the last few years, on visits to my parents, did my eyes open to the utter magnificence of the glorious mosaic interior of the structure.
      I've read that the Catherdal contains the largest mosaic surface of any building in the world. It took 80 years to complete! The story I heard is that when the church official in charge of building the Cathedral was visiting Italy once, he happened upon the mosaic works in Ravenna, and was so impressed that he told the proprietor, "If you ever need a job, just come to St. Louis, in the states." And that a few years later, the artist just showed up!
      Frankly, the story is too beautiful for me to want to risk checking out the facts. It's either a true story or a local myth—powerful in either case.

      My favorite place in the Cathedral is called the Blessed Virgin's Chapel. (I never knew what it was called till a moment ago.) This particular room room, the Church website says, "was created by Tiffany Company (italics mine) of New York in the Italian style."
      The ceiling of the chapel consists of a number of large, mosaic mandalas, each one amazingly intricate and totally different. When I'm standing under them, I feel I'm making a pilgrimage to a kind of pinnacle of human creativeness.
     A lot of the enormous mosaics elsewhere in the building have Christian themes, and you could say that in a way these do, too. But they are abstract to a degree that I can see things in them that make me think "Native American" or Sufi. In truth, they simply seem to embody a universal Religion of Beauty.
     If you ever get to St. Louis, do us both a favor: go down to 4400 Lindell Boulevard and take a look.


Many of the ceiling mandalas utilize the universal Lotus symbol.


The sky blue, I imagine, represents the Vault of Heaven.


Another Lotus motif. The Cathedral is a combination of Byzantine and
Romanesque architecture. Islamic arabesques certainly come to my mind.


Here is a cross used as a central motif. The 4 points, according to Carl
Jung in Man and His Symbols, form a "quaternity" representing wholeness.


This is the clearest of my pictures. Both Heaven and the Lotus;
to me, the work suggests the glorious, infinite layering of the Soul.

Another attempt to catch the entire room in one photo.

next page: a few more of my Cathedral photos

Virtual Tour of the entire Cathedral
(from the official Cathedral website, includes pictures of the huge mosaic domes)


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