Before England’s second lockdown, my priority was a trip to my local cathedral, York Minster. Remember that woman who married the Eiffel Tower? That is me and the minster. I am obsessed with the place: my phone is stuffed with a catalogue of creepshots of my gothic beloved from all angles. Pre-Covid, my resident’s pass let me drop in whenever I fancied to stroke the age-smoothed stone or sit in the side chapel with the stained-glass birds. Sometimes, I just used the loo. I am an atheist, but I don’t feel bad about using the minster in this way. Cathedrals were never meant only for worship: they are meeting places and community centres. You can see it in sacred art. In Rogier van der Weyden’s Seven Sacraments, painted as the minster was nearing completion, church rituals take place amid groups milling around in their Sunday best, gossiping; there are even several dogs. That goes for other religious spaces. It has been especially evident this year, as mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras fed the vulnerable and NHS workers. Communal worship may be out (a decision faith leaders contested), but faith spaces still serve, and exert a pull on, communities far beyond the… Read full this story
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