York Minster Pilgrimage

The statue is of Constantine lolling in a chair, just outside York Minster’s south door. On the other side of a pedistrianised roadway one of the great columns of the Roman Garrison’s Principia building has been re-errected. As I stood and surveyed the scene I was very close to the place where in 306 CE the IX Legion proclaimed Constantine Emperor, the successor to his father Constantius.

Constantine died in 337 CE he had converted to Christianity and the privileges and status that had once belonged to those who promoted the cult of the Divine Emperor fell to well placed churchmen. Some thought the privilege, power and status too much and retreated into the cleansing austerity of the desert. Other’s relished in it, climbing the dizzy heights of hierarchy and enthusiastically taking over Imperial Rome’s loveof monumental buildings pouring endless resources into the building, beautifying and maintenance of Christain basilicas.

I am inclined to say, “This is where, or at least one of the places where, the rot set in!” Of course, those who lived through those times would have argued that if kings had great palaces, the King of Kings should have even more splendid buildings dedicated to him! And yet I cannot avoid thinking that most were not simply built to the glory of God. And here, in York, we have what is said to be the biggest Gothic Cathedral in the world still sopping up great wodges of money just to keep it upright!

Do I think we should let it fall down? Probably not! It is a good thing that the Archbishop of York and Cathedral Staff in their stewardship of the building are steadfast in their allegiance to the Carpenter King.


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