Inside the cathedral that almost became a coronavirus field hospital


Looking down the nave of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. | Dennis Lennox

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City is hardly a typical church or cathedral.

The 121,000-square-foot cathedral, seat of the Episcopal bishop of New York, is the world’s largest cathedral. While there are bigger churches, none are, properly speaking, cathedrals.

It was announced last week that St. John the Divine would host a coronavirus field hospital from neighboring Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse. However, controversy erupted almost immediately.

The cathedral received significant criticism from the political left — the congregation is unabashedly liberal in its practice of Christianity — for allowing Samaritan’s Purse, run by conservative evangelist Franklin Graham, to use its space.

Within a couple of days, the field hospital closed before it even opened.

All sides say it was no longer needed, thanks to the decline in the number of new coronavirus hospital admissions. That may be the public explanation, but many believe what really happened was a case of deplatforming.

Regardless, anyone interested in historic churches and ecclesiastical architecture should visit St. John the Divine.

The high altar inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. | Dennis Lennox

The architectural masterpiece is primarily Gothic revival,…

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