A Dim Religious Light

Interior of Heinz Chapel

But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister’s pale,
And love the high embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voic’d quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heav’n before mine eyes.

——Milton, Il Penseroso.

It is difficult to convey in a photograph the impression we get from entering a glorious Gothic church like Heinz Chapel. In general photographs are too light, either because the photographers laudably attempted to capture the many artistic details of the Gothic interior, or because they used automatic exposure and let their cameras do the thinking. Old Pa Pitt has tried very hard in these pictures to give some impression of the relative lighting as we enter the chapel from the bright light outside. Most of the light is dim, but a pool of light shines in the distance, drawing us toward the altar.

Toward the altar
Toward the rear

No matter how bright it may be outside, turning to leave the church is walking away from the light.

Working on the Roof of Heinz Chapel

Workers on the roof of Heinz Chapel

It’s easy to forget how tall Heinz Chapel is until we see people working on the roof.

Heinz Chapel with roof work

Stephen Foster Memorial

Stephen Foster Memorial

One of the cluster of Gothic buildings by Charles Z. Klauder at the heart of the University of Pittsburgh, this looks like the baptistery for the Cathedral of Learning. It houses a museum of Stephen Foster, two theaters, and the Ethelbert Nevin Collection. There was a time when Ethelbert Nevin might have got a museum of his own, but he missed his chance, and now he is an appendix to Stephen Foster.

Cathedral of Learning from Across Schenley Plaza

Cathedral of Learning

One of the most remarkable things about the Cathedral of Learning is that it is an isolated skyscraper. There are very few places in the world where a skyscraper can be examined by itself, and few skyscrapers so much worth examining as this, which Father Pitt has often declared the only convincing application of Gothic style to the skyscraper form.