The Central Dome
A heavenly vision on a background of briIIiant red rises 143 feet from the floor to the central spotlight, symbolic of the power of God’s love. The mosaic panels are dedicated to the Holy Trinity (N), Ezeckial the Prophet (E) receiving the word of God, the woman of the Apocalypse (S) and Elias (W) taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot. At the base of the dome is a rippling wave symbolic of the dome of water, which according to Genesis, separates heaven and earth. The sixteen angels represent eight archangels and eight commemorative angels. Each angel has a constellation of stars at its feet. The four large angels of the pendentives depict the Old Testament (NE), New Testament (NW), Ecclesiastical authority (SW) and civil authority (SE).
The east arch has God, the Creator, as its central figure, flanked by the story of creation. The north arch is the Arch of Triumph, with Christ the Savior, as it’s central motif. John the Baptist is on His left with the prophets and kings of the Old Testament and the Virgin Mary is on His right with apostles and saints of the New Testament. The west arch, the Arch of Sanctification, is dedicated to the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit and the saints, doctors, and teachers of the Church. The south Arch of Judgment tells the story of the last day from the souls rising from the dead, to Christ’s judgment, to the souls condemned are passing through ice, symbolic of the lack of love.
The Sanctuary Dome
Mosaics picture the twelve apostles bearing symbols of their lives. The four pendentive mosaics are images of four doctors or teachers of the church, St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. John Chysostom of the Eastern rite and St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Ambrose of the Western rite. The south soffit, completed in 1927, contains mosaics of the priesthood of the Old and New Testaments. The east soffit mosaics are Old Testament prototypes of the Sacrifice of Jesus. The east lunette repeats the Old Testament theme in the portrayal of the Passover feast. The north wall of the Cathedral is pierced by a brilliant red stained glass window containing a gold cross surrounded with the crown of thorns.
The mosaic arch around the window pictures the deer of Psalm 42 which “long for the water as we long for the Lord.” The west soffit, designed by St. Louisan Robert Harmon, depicts the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the nativity and marriage feast of Cana mosaics. The west wall, completing the New Testament theme is a portrayal of the Last Supper after the DaVinci fresco in the refectory in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. The large structure over the main altar is the “baldacchino” whose top dome imitates the main exterior dome of the Cathedral. The white marble figure of Christ crucified dominates the sanctuary. The bishops chair or “cathedra” is on the west side of the sanctuary. It is this chair that makes this church a “cathedral.”