Sunday, August 9, 2009

Experiencing the Norman Chapel 07/30/09

-Week 5-
Paying a visit to the Norman Chapel made me question, how many people get married in a cemetery? It’s a paradox to think of two people coming to a place of burial to begin a new life. I think it has something to with the romanticism of death that draws people closer together, which would explain both Spring Grove Cemetery’s design as well as people getting married in the chapel itself. I feel that this idea was more widely proclaimed during the cholera epidemic of the late 19th century, when the Norman Chapel was built. Even so, this week's visit to Norman Chapel was an exciting one. From the outside of the chapel's stone walls to the inside of its pews and alter, there wasn't a nook or cranny that went unseen. Initially stepping in and seeing the chapel’s marble floors and Romanesque design attracted me to its beauty, and I felt that I was in somewhat of a sacred place. It looked as if I was in a church and it even smelled the same, reminding me of the days when I was younger and went to mass every Sunday.
I learned about the stone arches outside the chapel that provide structure for the sanctuary and investigated one of the olden wooden doors inside the chapel that looked damaged perhaps by age. I felt the chapel overall has been kept in pristine condition over the years and may reflect The Spring Grove Family’s care for their grounds. Behind the alter was a large stained glass window that provided an awesome sight. The window depicted Christ’s ascension into heaven and I learned that when the sun rises from the east, the window will illuminate the entire sanctuary. The most fascinating thing I learned about the chapel was that below there is a prison that was designed for holding captives and grave robbers of the cemetery. It's good to know the Spring Grove family does do all they can to keep visitors safe! There’s so much hidden behind every corner of Spring Grove and I continue to learn more as I immerse myself.

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