Stars in the heavens

I have passed the Church of St. Paul the Apostle a million times. It was only on this cold, gloomy day when the heavens couldn’t decide whether to rain or slush that I noticed the door to the church was actually open. I don’t know why I expect church doors to be closed and locked, but I do.

The open door

First, I have to tell you that this church is HUGE. Nothing on the outside says that the inside is going to be a cathedral-sized surprise. I remember reading somewhere that the church boasts a night time sky scene. What with light pollution and all, I am extremely interested in what the New York City star scene looks like. I’ll take a replica. I’m fine with that.

Stop in your tracks holy water font

After appreciating the size of the place, I was stopped in my tracks, quite literally, by the biggest holy water font I’ve ever seen. There is truly enough for all in this place. I took the opportunity to look up at the ceiling—surprisingly far away—to check out the stars. I had to laugh, but I didn’t, being in church and all. The stars are so tiny and far away and tucked away behind the dramatic lighting, that it is basically impossible to see them in any meaningful way. St. Paul the Apostle has indeed made a realistic replica of the NYC night sky.

Are the stars out tonight?

I popped into the gift shop to see if they had a postcard of the star-studded ceiling. I’m really not above taking a photo of a much better photographed postcard to show what could be seen. The very obliging Cathy searched, even though she doubted she had something like that, observing that it would be very difficult to get a good photograph of the ceiling. (No kidding.) What she did tell me is that all of the stars had been removed when they recently painted the ceiling. Removed? How can you remove paint?

It turns out that each star is made of plaster-of-Paris. Because one of the original Paulists from the church was an astronomer, the stars are shown as they would have been on the day that the church was consecrated. Cool! Even though it looks like the stars I see every other night from my well-lighted block.

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