Last weekend we had the opportunity to attend a retreat in the Roosevelt National Forest near Estes Park, Colorado. We stayed at Highlands camp, a facility owned by the Presbyterian Church and rented by our Lutheran congregation for the weekend. We set aside this time to study some of the religious artwork housed at the National Gallery, London. Our textbook, The Art of Worship, showed reproductions of about 50 paintings from their collection. Each of us chose one to discuss.
I picked an 1831 John Constable painting of Britain’s Salisbury Cathedral. I have visited several cathedrals in England, France and Germany, and Salisbury Cathedral is one of my favorites. I like to wonder whether any of my English ancestors ever visited this place. Dating to the 1200′s, the Salisbury Cathedral was built long before the Reformation, when even my family was Catholic. Religious pilgrims traveled there from the beginning.
When I go into a cathedral, I recall how it served as the focal point for the community over the centuries. Our modern life no longer revolves around the Church and the religious calendar the way it did when the great cathedrals were built. Perhaps Salisbury Cathedral, or some other cathedral, played an important role in the lives of some of my ancestors. Visiting a cathedral today provides me with a window into the religion-centric life of the past.
My own ancestors finally rebelled against Church authority and all that the cathedral represented. Those in Scandinavia became followers of Martin Luther. Those in England joined the Puritan movement.
How did these ancestors feel then about the cathedrals? I think I know the answer. They did not build cathedrals when they came to America. They were finished with all that.
Maybe that explains my fascination. Having never seen a cathedral here, I enjoy visiting those across the water and trying to envision the life of an ancestor in a cathedral town.
Photo Project Update
This week I set up the hierarchy for my scanned photos of cemetery markers. Under My Documents, I set up folders and subfolders: My Documents>Genealogy>Cemetery Markers>State>City or County>Cemetery. I moved all our scanned images into the appropriate folders. Next step is to re-label the images with labels more descriptive than the camera number.