Reconciliation amidst the Ruins

EL | ET Student
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The spire of the old Coventry Cathedral, built in 1432. | Photo by EL

Right in the middle of the Coventry University Campus sits Coventry Cathedral. The main staircase leading to the cathedral comes up between the ruins of the old building and the west wall of the new building. The new building to the right looks impressive. Its wall is made completely out of glass. There is an imposing sculpture of Michael the Archangel near the front.

Everything about the new cathedral is massive and beautiful. It stands in stark contrast to the ruins that lie just to the west. Built in the early 1400s, the building is one of the oldest in Coventry today, managing to avoid the many forces that could have knocked it down, including The Reformation.

During WWII, Coventry was bombed heavily in the Blitz, as several automotive factories were located in the city. The cathedral was destroyed during the attack. The roof is now completely gone and large portions of the walls are missing. Miraculously, the spire that was built in 1432 still stands today. Even more incredible is the way leaders of the church reacted to the destruction of the building. Within days of the bombing, the provost of the church ordered the words spoken by Christ while he was on the cross, “Father Forgive,” carved into the wall above what remained of the altar.

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The west wall of the new Coventry Cathedral.| Photo by EL

The cathedral became a symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness, the ruins left largely untouched as a reminder of both the devastation and the resurrection of the church. Designer Basil Spence filled the new cathedral with reminders of the old church and of the destruction it suffered. Inside, two charred beams of wood recovered from the wreckage of the attack form a cross. Coventry Cathedral also offers many reminders that everyone requires forgiveness, from the Germans, to the clergy, to anyone who may be visiting the church.




Categories: History & Politics

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