Cathedrals in Greater Boston and Worcester
Departing from Exeter/Hampton, NH on a brilliant Saturday morning, I quickly passed over the border into Massachusetts. Veering off of my cathedral route, I stopped first at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord. Four generations of the Cook family are buried there, and it had been my namesake grandfather's tradition to visit and clean up the markers on Memorial Day, which had been 3 weeks earlier. I took before and after shots, albeit I was ill prepared for cleaning off the moss and lichen which had accumulated. At least it looked a bit better for my efforts.
Our Lady of the Annunciation Melkite Catholic Cathedral in West Roxbury was my next stop. Unfortunately, I was driving in Greater Boston while the 2022 US Open (Golf) Tournament was underway, and traffic patterns were altered. After a rotary, I missed the turn for the cathedral, so circled the next roundabout and came back. A low, single story brick structure, a narrow open-domed tower stood at one end with a cross-topped clerestory-lit larger dome over the altar end. I was fortunate to be able to enter, as the rector was working on his sermon and welcomed me (and the break) so I could view the nave and sanctuary. Brightly colored stain glass windows lined the sides, while a screen with icons protected the sanctuary space in front. Many more icon panels hung on both the front and rear walls. Per Wikipedia, "The Melkite Greek Catholic Church or Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church."
My next goal was Saint Mark of Ephesus American Orthodox Cathedral in Roslindale. This was special to me, as it was the east coast "sister cathedral" to St Nectarios in Seattle which I had recently visited, a member of the HOCNA (Holy Orthodox Church in North America.) A christening was underway when I arrived, so I returned to my rental car for my sports jacket, as a sign alerted visitors that long sleeves were a sign of respect. I noted that St Anna's Orthodox Church was next door, and learned it was associated with the cathedral.
Once the ceremony concluded and family photos were taken, I was able to explore the interior of the nave, and spoke with the monk-priest who had baptized the child. I was invited downstairs to the hall for the luncheon feast, and then an invitation was extended to follow the clergy back to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline. A large rambling structure, my tour took me to the third level where icons were prepared, and down to the basement where mounting boards were cut and sanded. I had a brief respite on the grounds before it was time to continue my journey.
My final stop in the Boston suburbs was a second Saint Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral in Westwood. As Garmin attempted to direct me through back roads and local police strove to keep traffic away from the US Open venues, I was graced with understanding officers who let me make turns which were proscribed to other drivers. This second St Mark's is GOC (Geniune Orthodox Church) and was closed. Sitting on a corner in a nicely wooded area, the back of the building faces the street with a wooden monument announcing the cathedral. Coming around the white clapboard building, the front entrance wall is beige stucco, and up 4 flagstone steps to a pair of wooden doors set in an arch with a mosaic of the Evangelist above.
By this time, it was past mid-afternoon, and I still had to drive 50 miles west to Worcester. Answering the toll road question wrong, I was directed on state roads (Highway 9) through gorgeous scenery and small towns, taking a bit more than the hour projected. First up was the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America see at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral. A rather large structure faced in a warm yellow-orange brick, an oxidized copper dome with a gold cross loomed at the far end of the three-story entrance. Parking a bit away, I walked the exterior, trying doors whenever I found one, but to no avail. What was apparently the church hall stood 200 feet away, and a number of vehicles were parked nearby. Elegantly dressed women (and a few of the men) appeared to be waiting on a reception. I entered the hall to use the facilities, and asked if it was possible to slip into the nave for a few pictures. Unfortunately, the security was unable to authorize, so I left and pushed on.
Onward into downtown. St Paul's Cathedral, the Roman Catholic seat, is having serious scaffolding work done on its square tower at the street corner. Traditionally laid out with a transept creating a cross in the floor plan, the building is clad in gray stone, its side aisles two-storied with clerestory windows at the next level and a steep slate roof of another two stories. Inside the walls and columns are a muted white with aged gold highlights. The nave's vault ceiling is stenciled in a subtle diamond pattern, repeated in the ribs. The bishop's throne, a dark wooden (walnut?) chair, sits behind and above the altar table, in front of a much darker (oak?) carved reredos. Gleaming white statues of Saints Peter and Paul flank the sanctuary. From the foyer, I found the stairs to the rear choir loft open, and was able to get closer pictures of the pipe organ and its console, as well as some nave shots.
Continuing to the west, I next stopped at St Spyridon Cathedral, the Greek Orthodox church. Set a bit outside of downtown, it faces a large city park at the intersection of main streets, with parking to the rear of the large white dome. A bell-tower-like structure stands at the street corner, at the entrance and across from another church. Similar in color to St George, the building rises above the trees planted alongside, to the height of the street lamps. Sets of stairs rise off the sidewalk, although a handicap ramp does come up to the front doors from the church hall alongside. Arriving close to 5pm, I'd pushed my luck and found the building locked. But, for a Saturday, I felt fortunate to be able to get inside 3 of the 6 cathedrals on my list, plus getting a tour of the monastery.
With Springfield my next day's destination, I'd opted to travel a bit more to the west to stay in Sturbridge. After checking into my lodgings, I headed out for dinner, not finding my "dining for miles" establishment, and instead stopping at the Cedar Street Grille, which was just down the hill from my room. Seated at the bar (busy Saturday night!) I had a Caesar salad and the special, osso bucco. On the next stool sat Pete, who advised me that I'd found the local's hidden secret, and was enjoying the best the town offered. Based on my dinner, and the Oban 14 single malt Scotch I had afterwards, I heartily agree.