Sunday, December 25, 2016

The coming of Jesus and his genealogy in sculptures at Trinity Church, New York City

Today, Christmas Day, we remember the times we dropped by the neo-Gothic Trinity Church of the Episcopalian diocese in New York City on our sundry walks around lower Manhattan.

The construction of Trinity was completed in 1846 and has received endowments from the rich and the famous like the Astors, and the powerful, the British royalty, through the years. 

There are three things that keep us tarry at Trinity: the bronze doors, the magnificent interior with its altar reredos and stained glass chancel window, and the burial ground at the churchyard.

The doors date back to 1893 and were gifts of William Waldorf Astor (now we know from where Waldorf Astoria was derived). They comprise panels that depict scenes from the Bible, history of the church, and of New York City.

While there is no sculpted nativity scene on any of the two leaves of the door at the main portal, the beginning and the end of the life of Jesus are presented. They come as a pair of panels in the middle of the left and right leaves. 

The Annunciation, a panel in the left leaf of the bronze main portal door.

On the left leaf is the Annunciation - angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would conceive and be the mother of Jesus, and its counterpoint in the right leaf is an empty tomb - the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

The lowest pair depicts scenes from the Old Testament: expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, and the dream of Jacob, while the topmost pairs are interpretations of two visions from the Apocalypse.

The churchyard is an old burial ground. The tomb of Alexander Hamilton is in the southern yard.

What is striking in the northern yard is the Astor Cross, erected in 1914 in memory of Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, wife of William Astor. 

The Astor Cross at the northern churchyard.

The Cross carries sculpted figures to illustrate the genealogy of Jesus Christ according to St. Luke.

Around the four-sided obelisk are the following familiar characters: on the front side, going upwards - Adam and Eve, Shem and Judah; and on the other three sides, (a) Noah, Jacob and David; (b) Enoch, Isaac and Jesse; and (c) Seth, Abraham and Ruth, in the other sides,  And at the top of the structure is the Crucifix.

Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, at the doors and the churchyard cross at Trinity Church.

Adam and Eve.

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