Mr. Hawthorne and I found St. Lawrence Basilica last time we were in Asheville and I've been wanting to check out inside ever since. What is a Basilica? The name "basilica" dates back to early Greek and Roman times and referred to a type of public building. In the 4th century, Basilicas began to be used as places of worship. Today, the term Basilica is a special designation given by the Holy Father to certain churches because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance, or significance as a place of worship. Saint Lawrence Basilica is considered the Mother Church of Western North Carolina.
Here it is, in downtown Asheville. The Basilica of St. Lawrence was completed in 1909 and is one of Asheville's architectural treasures and spiritual anchors. It was designed by architects Rafael Gustavino and Richard Sharpe Smith, who were renowned architects on the Biltmore House. The style is Spanish Renaissance.
One of the architectural highlights is the beauty of the ellipse and the wonder of the dome. It has a clear span of 58 x 82 feet and is reputed to be the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America. There are no beams of wood or steel in the entire structure. All walls, floors, ceilings, and pillars are of tile or other masonry materials. The roof is of tile with a copper covering.
The next point of focus is the main alter with the Crucifixion tableaux above, a fine representation of 17th century Spanish wood carving. It represents Mary and St. John at the Crucifixion.
Jesus teaching in the temple. Somewhere at the rear of the chapel is the crypt of the architect, Rafael Guastavino. The door is of luster-glazed tiles framed in bronze. The luster-glaze process was discovered by Guastavino during ceramic experimentation. I would have loved to have shot pictures of all the stained glass and given you explanations, but we just didn't have time.
As I said, I was rushing to get pictures because a funeral was starting soon. The deceased, John Edward Davis, was a veteran of world War II. Mr. Hawthorne was talking to one of the gentlemen from the funeral home and found out this was the 3rd funeral this week for a WW II vet.
Thank you, Mr. Davis, for your service to this great country.
For more information, please go to The Basilica of Saint Lawrence.