Cathedral Lit

A cathedral I'd love to visit: Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

The Guardian lists ten of the best cathedrals in literature and I have read none of them. I love churches and cathedrals and I love Church Lit (as distinct from Christian Lit), especially if it involves different factions of Anglicans or Protestants. All the better if beadles, vergers, rectors, vicars, etc. are involved. However, I’m hard-pressed to think of books I have read that specifically involve cathedrals. Let’s see. There is Cathedral by David Macauley — not a novel but a fascinating book to pore over on a rainy afternoon. The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L’Engle, if I recall correctly, is set in a cathedral. And perhaps The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers would count? I think that is more of a church than a cathedral, but of course it does have a belfry. Which makes me wonder: at what point does a church become a cathedral?

I’ve been looking over various reading challenges to try next year. I have kind of mixed feelings about declaring in advance what I am going to read because it rules out browsing. On the other hand, something like the Read Your Own Books challenge would help take care of some of that nagging guilt, ya know? I say this because of course it did occur to me to give myself a Cathedral Lit challenge and just drill right down the list. Eh, maybe not. I’m bookmarking it though.

What Cathedral Lit have you read?

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  1. The Sagrada Familia is a wonderful church, all of Gaudís work is worth seeing. I hope you get to vist Barcelona.
    I only read Notre Dame de Paris on that list and did not like it.
    I thought that a cathedral is in fact a bigger church, a main church in a city where the bishops or some more important clergy was. At least that’s how it was in my city.

    • Thanks Caroline! I hope so too. Barcelona is number one on my list of Places I Hope To Visit Some Day.

      Anyway, I googled it (probably should have done that before posting!) and it looks like you’re right — a cathedral has to have a bishop.

  2. Pillars of the Earth is a must! Why don’t you join the One, Two Theme Challenge and make “Cathedrals” one of your themes?

    • Well, I just might do that! Thanks for the suggestion. Thanks for both suggestions actually. I’ve been meaning to read Pillars for the longest time.

  3. Oh, what a cool list! I personally am not a fan of Pillars of the Earth, but I realize I’m in the minority :-)


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