Cathedral Illuminated: The Manger – a Drive by COVID-friendly light show

Kudos to the St Paul Cathedral for finding a way to entertain the masses (pun intended!) and adhere to COVID quarantine rules by hosting a video of the Christmas story on the side of God’s house – Cathedral Illuminated: The Manger. The lightshow was created by Luxmuralis, out of the UK; this is the US Debut. It’s a 12-minute show that will be played on a continuous loop between 6-9:00 p.m. Dec. 17-19. (NOTE: Saturday night is the last night.)

It’s cool. I was probably standing too close for optimal view but I like to stand too close. I’m sure the music was louder across the street of if I had turned on a radio to 103.3 FM, but I could hear it well enough. The Christmas story comes across – if you’ve heard it a million times. It’s an interpretation more than replication. I loved the dreamier part of the work. The animation worked well across the large, sculpted canvass.

Apparently the animation shows windows from churches around the world and ends with “Black Madonna and Child” stained glass window from Our Lady of Assumption church in Charlotte, N.C. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that according to the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, the image was chosen in remembrance of George Floyd and to honor Black mothers and children everywhere. While that level of detail can be elusive on the face of the Cathedral, I love the idea of it.

I’m glad I went. I’m happy it was 40 degrees. I am especially glad that I parked in the neighborhood and walked to it rather than stay in my car. For walkers, the process was mostly don’t stand in groups larger than quarantine allows. You weren’t allowed to walk in front of the Cathedral. You could walk on the other side of the street but it sounded like they kept people moving – again in deference to keeping them COVID safe.

For cars, the process was drive to get to the front of the Cathedral. Park during the 12-minute presentation. Move on. The traffic was horrendous. It took me more than 10 minutes to get out of my parking space and turn out of traffic. I can’t imagine everyone waiting to see the show got to see it. You would clearly see it from a long distance but the peripheral view was not great.

That being said, it’s definitely worth a little walk. It feels like community, which is something we all need. And while I’m not religious, I’m glad to see anyone take the opportunity to use art to bring people together in whatever way we can.

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