When we were visiting Saint Louis this past week, we saw the Cathedral Basilica of the town, the patron of which is fittingly King Louis IX of France—Saint Louis. He was the historical ideal of a Christian king in the West.
The church is one of the loveliest Roman Catholic places of worship in the United States. The whole cathedral is decorated by mosaics of scenes from the scriptures and Christian history. In the narthex, you can see mosaics of King Louis as a crusader, a patron of the arts, a just ruler, and a guardian of the poor. I was particularly pleased by a mosaic of Louis and one of my almae matres—la Sorbonne (Well, Paris IV, at least). The altar area, side chapels, and domes are impressive and tastefully adorned with theological instruction in stone, glass, and mosaic. I wonder how the basilica escaped the ravages of the contemporary iconoclasts.
Outside the basilica is a small garden. The cathedral school is across the street, but it is an unsightly testament to the architectural degeneration that has occurred in America over the last few generations. I imagine that the old school building was a lovely complement to the basilica but that it was torn down to put up the “efficient” monstrosity that renders its space noxious to the senses. At least, the basilica remains beautiful.