Bent spires and stained glass windows

St. Patrick's Cathedral, 50th and Fifth Avenue, New York, September 2003

Click on the image to show a larger version suitable for desktop display.


Across Fifth Avenue from Rockefeller Centre, with the famous statue of Atlas, is St. Patrick's Cathedral—a Manhattan landmark. It's St. Patricks that captured my attention on a rainy day in September 2003. I've seen pictures of the cathedral, most of them cropped-in-camera vertically, so the whole ediface can't be seen. That's why I set about putting together a photo that would encompass the church from bottom to top, and show off most of its famous—and photogenic—features.

The scoffer will say this is actually cheating, since it's really composed of four separate frames composited into a single image. Sure, I'll agree. But isn't it marvelous, showing the cross-topped spires, the intertwined stained glass, and those massive doors with their homage to the saints. The outside is sky-reflecting marble, cut into all shapes of pinnacles, protrusions, protuberances, crannies, crevices, and clefts. Set as a jewel amidst the steel-and-glass curtain-walled office towers, St. Patrick's is … well … unique.

I created this image for my mother, who spent parts of her youth, early adulthood, and retirement living in New York. She loved the Big Apple. When I finally had an opportunity to visit, she was so thrilled she added me to one of her credit card accounts so I would have a back-up card in case of emergency. She said it was least she could do to make sure I enjoyed myself.

More than any other place in New York, she loved St. Patrick's. I mounted a high-resolution version of this composite in a frame for for her 86th birthday, and she insisted I hang it on the wall when she moved into assisted living. I gladly placed it where she could see it as she was propped up on her pillows. It was the least I could do. I like to think it was the last thing she saw when she slipped away.