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  • I am not religious, having a hearty disrespect for most hierarchies, but I do love churches and have photographed them from tiny chapels in Tenerife to this one. The Christian Science Church (as we Bostonians call it) is enormous and gorgeous and on this wet New Year's Eve, they were offering tours and lectures, combining some of my favorite things: getting out of the rain, information gathering, and gilded altars.

    I struggled with my irreverence towards organized religions, even without knowing the particulars of them, and joined the tour group forming in the foyer. I knew nothing about Mary Baker Eddy, just wanted to see the cathedral, so I hung back and swallowed my prejudice for the moment. Lots of tourists were seated in the pews in front of me, asking questions, most of which I couldn't hear so I looked around and took lots of pictures of the golden interior of the Mother Church. The architecture spoke of the reverence of the past and of fine craftsmanship, and "Who is So Great a God as Our God" was etched into the bowed structure that held the pipes to organ. I wished we had been on time to hear the pipe organ recital, but just seeing the gleaming gold in this architecture was awesome, a reminder that those who do believe in things I dismiss put their greatest artists to work in praise and honoring. Very cool place. The actual info on the church follows:

    From their website: The Original Mother Church is at the heart of the Christian Science Plaza ... was completed in 1894 in just 13 months' time. Designed by architect Franklin I. Welch of Malden, Massachusetts, the Church is reminiscent of the Romanesque architectural style. The exterior of the building is New Hampshire granite. The building seats about 900 people. Inside the sanctuary, frescoes stenciled by Italian artisans and finished off freehand decorate the upper part of the walls. Mosaic work around the lower part of the walls, the front platform, and the floor was done in the traditional style with each individual piece of stone set separately. The floor is white Italian marble. The pews, desk, and front of the organ are of red birch from eastern Canada.

    The organ was rebuilt in 1950 by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company to replace the original organ. It has 2,825 pipes that were relocated behind grillwork in the ceiling when The Mother Church Extension was built. The organ pipes visible in the front of the sanctuary are purely decorative.

    The Mother Church Extension

    The large, domed Mother Church Extension was designed by Charles Brigham and Charles Coveney of Boston, and Solon Beman of Chicago, and completed in 1906 in just 23 months. The outside of the building is Italian Renaissance to match the architecture in Boston at that time. The dome is in the Byzantine style. The inside of the dome is purely decorative, with electric lamps simulating natural light. The exterior of the dome rises to more than twice the height of the interior dome, or 224 feet. Because of the small plot of land, the Church edifice was built upward instead of outward, so the sanctuary, which seats over 3,000 people, is located on the second floor.

    The organ, built by the Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston, is one of the largest in the world; it covers eight divisions and has a total of 13,295 pipes. The largest pipe is 32 feet high, and the shortest is only half an inch high. The organ is played from a four-keyboard console located in front of the platform. From
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