|Our Street at Night|
|Geneva at Night|
|Pizza Restaurant in Old Town|
The construction of the St. Peter Cathedral in Geneva began in the late 1100's and the latest changes were made during the Reformation in the 1700's, so it contains elements of Romanesque, Gothic, and Neoclassical architecture. Cathedrals built during this time represent the beginning of relative stability in Europe. I say relative because Europe has always consisted of different tribes of people, separated by very little in the way of geographical borders and constantly warring over territory. But around 1000 AD, the Vikings launched a two-hundred year campaign of carnage across Europe, devastating and pillaging every village they came across. This period of uncertainty in Europe stunted its growth, and it was not until the mid to late 1100's that the Viking invasions became farther and fewer between, and Europe's tribes began to think about setting up permanent, agrarian settlements. The cathedral was the center of town, it's public square was the place of commerce, and obviously, it was the center for religious worship.
Walking around the Cathedral and the narrow alleys around it, I found myself completely aware of everything in my surroundings and how different it was compared to anything else I've ever experienced. The rain water running down the stone shingles and walls then dripping through the copper gutters provided a beautifully distinct soundtrack while my footing occasionally slipped on the centuries-old bricks. The towering stone walls were rough and cold to the touch, but as I ran my fingers along them I found patches of thick moss growing in the cracks, another indication of the hundreds of years of weathering and aging. Stepping out of the alley and into the square, I could picture the bustling marketplace. All of the commerce, all of the governing, all of the socializing, all in the shadow of this monument to God.
That was when I experienced something of an epiphany. What kind of Faith does it take to build something like this? The Romanesque portions of the church took hundreds of years to complete, using new and dangerous building techniques. Men died building Cathedrals. Faith leads people to do extraordinary and exceptional acts. So what do we build our monuments to now? What do we put our faith in? In the Western world, it is moving away from God. Our churches are built as afterthoughts -- designed to blend into neighborhoods, not to lead or beautify them. Their congregations are dying off, with huge drop-offs in attendance and contributions. What are we as a people or as individuals putting our faith in?
To what do you build your monument?