Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City

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The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, officially the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in the City and Diocese of New York, is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York City (between West 110th Street, which is also known as "Cathedral Parkway", and 113th Street) in Manhattan's Morningside Heights, the cathedral disputes with Liverpool Anglican Cathedral the title of the largest cathedral and Anglican church and fourth largest Christian church in the world.


In 1887 Bishop Henry Codman Potter of the Episcopal Diocese of New York called for a cathedral to rival St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. After an open competition, a design by the New York firm of George Lewis Heins and C. Grant LaFarge in a Byzantine-Romanesque style was accepted the next year.

The first services were held in the crypt, under the crossing in 1899. The Ardolino brothers from Torre di Nocelli, Italy, did much of the stone carving work on the statues designed by the English sculptor John Angel. After the large central dome made of Guastavino tile was completed in 1909, the original Byzantine-Romanesque design was changed to a Gothic design. Performing at the recording session were Ellington himself on the piano and doing the narration, 16 of his orchestra members, four vocalists including the Swedish singer Alice Babs, and five choirs: the AME Mother Zion Church Choir, the choirs Of St Hilda's and St. Hugh's School, the Central Connecticut State College Singers, and the Frank Parker Singers.

In 1990, avant-garde musician Diamanda Galas performed Plague Mass, a culmination of her work dedicated to the victims of the AIDS epidemic. Galas' performance consisted of covering her body in cattle blood and reinterpreting biblical texts and classic literature claiming it was a protest against what she saw as the ignorance and condemnation towards people with AIDS from religious and political groups.

Paul Winter has given many concerts at the cathedral, and the Paul Winter Consort are the artists in residence. Among the major musical event that takes place every year is a celebration of the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, when the Paul Winter Consort participates in a liturgical performance of Winter's Missa Gaia (Earth Mass). The musical group also performs at the annual Winter Solstice program. Musical performances and special events are customarily listed on the cathedral's website under Events & Programs.

The Congregation of Saint Saviour, a separately incorporated congregation, makes its home at the cathedral. It offers events, classes and programs.


The Great Organ was built by the renowned organbuilder E.M. Skinner in 1911. It is one of five organs in the cathedral complex. It is located above the Choir on the North and South sides. In 1952, it was enlarged by the Aeolian Skinner Organ Company. During this rebuild the State Trumpet was added and placed below the rose window. Speaking on fifty inches of wind pressure, it is the most powerful organ stop in the world. In late 2001, a fire in the North Transept resulted in heavy smoke damage to the organ. The Great Organ is currently valued at over eight million U.S. Dollars.

Organists (post 1952)

  • Miles Farrow 1910-1931
  • Norman Coke-Jephcott 1932-1953
  • John Upham (interim) 1953-1954
  • Alec Wyton 1954-1974
  • David Pizzaro 1974-1977
  • Paul Halley 1977-1990
  • Dorothy Papadakos
  • Timothy Brumfield
  • Bruce Neswick 2008-present


  • William Mercer Grosvenor 1911-1916
  • Howard Chandler Robbins 1917-1929
  • Milo Hudson Gates 1930-1939
  • James Pernette DeWolfe 1940-1942
  • James Albert Pike 1952-1958
  • John Vernon Butler 1960-1966
  • James Parks Morton 1972-1997
  • Harry Houghton Pritchett, Jr. 1997-2001
  • James August Kowalski 2002-present

Notable interments

  • Dave Dellinger, activist
  • John Gregory Dunne, novelist, screenwriter and literary critic
  • Ethyl Eichelberger, theatrical artist
  • Robert Joffrey, choreographer
  • Paul Moore, bishop
  • Madeleine L'Engle, author
  • Terrence Tolbert, public service


External links