Moon Rock in a Church Window

Field review by the editors.

Washington, DC

On July 21, 1974, the fifth anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk on the moon, the crew of Apollo 11 visited the Washington National Cathedral with a seven-gram slice of moon rock the size of a silver dollar. "On behalf of the President and the people of the United States," said Armstrong, "we present unto you this fragment of creation from beyond the earth to be imbedded in the fabric of this house of prayer for all people." The cathedral's dean then preached on the religious significance of Earth men strolling on the moon.

The idea was that the rock would then be embedded in a stained glass "Space Window" in the cathedral -- but, being the 1970s, when things often went wrong, the Window wasn't ready. A circle of gray constitution paper was substituted for the moon rock.

The Window, designed by St. Louis artist Rodney Winfield, is an abstract design of swirls, pinpoints, and circles, suggesting stars and other heavenly bodies. The moon rock, sealed in a capsule of nitrogen, was eventually embedded in the center of the largest circle, and the whole thing, including the moon rock, was finally cemented into place on March 29, 1975.

Moon Rock in a Church Window

Washington National Cathedral

Address:
3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Directions:
Can be glimpsed from South Rd on the Cathedral's south side, but is best seen from inside the Cathedral on a sunny day. There are three tiers of windows; the Space Window is on the second tier, the middle window, fourth from the left and right. The window has nine square panes of stained glass; the rock is in the uppermost center pane, in the center of a circular pattern.
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August 20, 2019

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