Although there has been a church on this site since 1854, the earliest remains to be found in St Giles' Cathedral are four ... More
Saint Giles' Cathedral
Although there has been a church on this site since 1854, the earliest remains to be found in St Giles' Cathedral are four pillars which date from about 1120. In 1385, the church was destroyed by an English army but soon afterward rebuilt in greater splendor. In 1460, the roof was raised and the main body of the church extended eastwards. The famously elaborate crown spire was completed in 1495 and St Giles' was made a Presbyterian cathedral by Charles I in 1633. There is a contemporary contribution to the cathedral - in 1992, the organ was installed and you can view its mechanisms from a glass panel in the back. The Chapel of the Knights of the Thistle, built in 1911 for the Order of the Thistle, is particularly beautiful: each Knight's stall is carved in wood with an impressively intricate touch.
Fascinating place to attend a worship service. And much history all over the place.
Being from Texas, we enjoyed this anecdote from one of the staff ministers, who struck up a conversation with us at our last visit in 2004. He related (and I guess this really happened) a story about a Texas pastor who had come to worship, and was asking before services about the number of members, the type of educational programs, the budget, and other things that were really none of his business. For everything he was told, he always topped it with HIS church back in Texas. Finally, he said, "and just how old is this church? Mine was built in 1875." And the Scottish pastor, with typical droll Scots wit, said: "See that beam above your head? We have DUST on that beam older than your church."
St. Giles is an amazing catherdral that illustrates the dicotamy of the Scottish spirit. Inside are venerated hero's of coflicts past, their memorials guilded and ornatedly carved, yet the true history is in how they died, and where. The back steps of this ornate church has seen many a brave man swing from the gallows. The back parking lot is directly over an ancient, and well packed burial ground. Plaques embedded in parking spots mark a couple of the more famous bodies that lie beneath the asphalt. There is no admission fee to the church though it is undergoing restoration so drop a fiver in the kitty to keep it up!
As a U.S. Catholic I have lots of interest in the Reformation and have read lots about John Knox, especially his anti-statuary tirades in his preaching...so I couldn't wait to get to St. Giles where I was able to walk up to the larger than life Statue of Knox in the nave of the building, and give it a big hug and a kiss!!!
If you can round up one of the "wardens" who will give you an inexpensive tour do it!!!
It is a beautiful place...
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