Bronze Doors

The ceremonial bronze doors, the work of sculptor Ulrich Henn, depict the journey of humanity towards the heavenly city.  The story begins with Adam and Eve's first faltering steps as they leave the garden.  The angel sends them forth, but one hand is raised in blessing:  already we know how this "divine comedy" will end - in a new paradise.  

The New Testament door begins with Jesus' baptism - the beginning of his active ministry, and, for every baptized person, the beginning of the Christian life.  

The New Testament door continues with the healing of the paralyzed man.  Jesus not only cures the man's physical infirmity; he forgives his sins as well. Henn suggests this double healing in the figure of the man, who simultaneously steps from the stretcher carried by his two friends, and touches his heart.  The figure just below who looks out at us and points boldly towards Jesus is the figure who, in that Gospel story, demands to know "who but God alone can forgive sins?"  That question, the artist suggested, is one that all seekers must ask as they come to the Cathedral.


The journey continues with Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where he is greeted with jubilation, people waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!"

The culmination of this human journey is depicted in the tympanum above the doors, which is a vision of the heavenly city using imagery from the book of Revelation.  At the center of this city is Christ, the Lamb of God.  Rivers flow from the city, and on the banks spring up trees, covered in fruit, full of life.  Notice the angel in the upper right:  where the first angel pointed the way out of paradise, this angel points the way to a new and greater paradise - through the Lamb of God.

Henn also created four bronze doorstops for the Ceremonial Doors.  The artist decided to dedicate these doorstops to the children of the Cathedral, and so created whimsical figures of saints and animals: a leaping fish with St. James, the patron of the Cathedral;  a crowing rooster with St. Peter, weeping (left).




The flanking bronze doors are unadorned except for the handles, which depict parallel scenes from the Old and New Testament.  On the left, Jonah steps from the mouth of the whale; on the right, Jesus lifts the doubting Peter out of the water (right).