Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Did you know NYC has catacombs?

This church was stunning;
Alas, it was not the one with the catacomb tour ;)

So we had planned to go on a catacomb tour this am; the challenge is we didn’t realize when we booked it that we needed the OLD St Patrick’s not the current one.  The one that’s a good 55 min walk away.  When I was tired and very sore.   Ugh.  We made it of course but not super how I wanted to spend the morning.  Plus side - it was a really nice walk w some gorgeous architecture and a couple parks, so that was awesome.  

Also, being NYC, some random chaos ;)

The tour itself was good - the guide knew her stuff and was highly passionate yet also respectful that her audience might have different religious views than her.  So her spiel was routed in history - facts about gangs and what happened when between the religions and the various iterations of their church as a result.  She spoke of people from the 1800’s as though she’d known them personally, which is the kind of passion you want in a guide.   The photographer in me also appreciates the opportunity for some unique photos in the garden, the cemetery, the church, the catacombs, and of nearby architecture.   

One of the calmer places we saw on our trip ;)

Being not a church type person, my interest is more artistic and historical than religious, although I will admit I was fascinated to find 2023 dates on some of the spaces in the catacombs.  So clearly it is still actively being used if you either belong to one of the two families who have founding crypts that still have living and interested members or pay enough to the church for the honour 😂.  Also learned about some tombstones that signal - at least here - underground family crypts (or maybe vaults?   Memory blank and I acknowledge my knowledge of catholic burial vocabulary is exceptionally limited lol).  But the idea of a whole family under one stone is sort of interesting.  Those ones in Manhattan cannot be added too - no more bodies in the ground (legally) since about a century ago. (give or take a bit - I didn't write down the details!)

The church had a wall around it for protection
when being Catholic wasn't socially acceptable

So after the graveyard spiel we went into the church.  There was a “no tank top” rule stated - as per most churches - so I’d hauled a sweater w me the whole way (35-ish deg), and then the guide was wearing thinner straps than mine.  So fair enough - it was hot! - but I wouldn’t have carried that sweater all the way if I’d known my comparatively conservative sundress would be acceptable.   The only rule was “anyone identifying as male need to remove their hat indoors” lol no idea why women wouldn’t need to but okay.   None of the women were wearing hats so moderately irrelevant in this case.

The original entrance to the catacombs;
Now sealed but with glass to allow light in.

We explored the church a bit and went down to the catacombs.  Since they’re all sealed there was no visible evidence of human remains - I’d had in mind something like the Paris catacombs and it was nothing like that.  This was more a cross between an indoor graveyard and a bank vault.  The display they’ve set up was well done though - battery powered candles at every vault and for most of them a tablet with a screen giving some of the key things about that person’s life (who decided what to tell?!?!   I have no idea, but most of them focused on church related stuff or doing good in the community etc).   They were all respectfully written to position the person in a good light.

Inside the catacombs;
The light you see is from the original entrance

There was an end spiel but C and I left before that (our guide had said there would be but that often people preferred to leave before and no issue).

Chris breaking us out of... church ;)


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