A Guide On Cathedrals For Sikh People Religion Essay

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This assignment is a guide for Sikh people on cathedrals. The issues that will be discussed are as follows definitions of Spirituality and linking this to cathedrals, why God is important to Christians, the bible and the cross. Brief background on the cathedrals that have been chosen are as follows Lichfield cathedral and Coventry cathedral. The main features of a cathedral for example the nave, candles, the font and the altar. Finally the task will be discussing comparisons between Lichfield cathedral and Coventry cathedral.

Definitions of Spirituality

Spirituality is to do with what people think and feel about the world. According to Moss (2005, p.25) spirituality is the way people express world- views. Another definition of spirituality is to find meaning and purpose, the 'interior life', religious experience and awareness (Hyde 2008). Other definitions of spirituality Mursell (2008) suggests that it is a belief that leads to love, honour, trust and fear and hope. Throughout the assignment I will link this notion to other discussions.

Why is God important

Christians believe in one God which is called monotheists but with three different names for God such as God the father is seen to be the creator of the world, God the son is to do with Jesus and the Holy Spirit who is God working in the world through text and traditions such as festivals these are called the trinity. Jesus is important because he taught people about God; he showed the people what God is like. Jesus was put to death on the cross. In comparison to Sikhism they also believe in one God, they also believe that god is everywhere and God created the world so that people can enjoy the world. In my opinion in every religion god means the same but worshipping different Gods and religion.

The Bible

The Bible has two parts which are the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the Hebrew bible written by the Jews in 1200 and 165 BC. On the other hand in the first century AD the New Testament were written by Christians. The Bible is more than a book because it has a collection of stories, songs, letters and history and religious literature included inside this book. People who read the prayers are introduced in God's existence.

'Prayer is communion, is the means by which we become conscious of the actual presence of God to whose existence and authority we have unconditionally assented'. Mursell (2008, p.274)

The Cross

The cross is one of the vital symbols in Christianity which reminds Christians about the crucifixion of Jesus. The design of the cross will have different meanings also the cross is a spiritual symbol. Different crosses can be seen in cathedrals such as the empty cross and a cross with Jesus being crucified. Empty cross represents torture which has been defeated because the victim has moved. This is linked to the Christian idea which is Jesus had died on the cross but rose again. So the empty cross shows God's power and hope. Cross showing Jesus being crucified represents Jesus suffering which led to his death on the cross in the 13th century. In this image Jesus will lean his head to one side which indicates that Jesus had just died.


A Cathedral is place of worship where Christians go to prayer, and this building is bigger than a church. The cathedrals are in a shape of a cross. Symbols in the a cathedral are very important because people were unable to read so in cathedrals there will be a lot imagery which has meaning conveys meaning of these displays. This part will discuss the background of the two cathedrals that will be discussed are as follows Lichfield and Coventry cathedral.

Background Information Lichfield cathedral

For 1300 years Lichfield Cathedral has been the most important place for prayer and for the worship of God. The first cathedral (Saxon) was built in 700AD to create a place for the shrine of St Chad. St Chad was bishop of Lichfield in 669AD but died shortly after from the plaque disease in 672AD. This cathedral was replaced by the Norman Cathedral which opened in 1085 to continue worship and provide for the growing number of pilgrims. The present Gothic building was built between 1195 and 1330. Restoration begun in 1660 and it still continues.

Background Information Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral was created 1000 years ago and during this period they have had three cathedrals. In the 12th century priory church which was dedicated to St Mary. The medieval parish church cathedral named after St Michael. The third cathedral which is the modern Coventry cathedral is once again named after St Michael. In the 1940 the old cathedral was attacked and damaged which was caused by self centeredness but the new cathedral is for hope and new life. In 1539, the closure of the monasteries, Coventry and Lichfield was transferred to Lichfield and the former cathedral fell into decay.  Only in 1918 was the modern diocese of Coventry created in its own right, and the church of St Michael designated as its cathedral.

However the main differences between the two cathedrals are that Coventry cathedral is more modern also it was founded before Lichfield cathedral. But Lichfield cathedral is the only medieval cathedral in England which has three spires. Both Cathedrals have had three cathedrals during their history.

Another issue is that Lichfield cathedral and the Coventry priory church were twin foundations, which means they were both together this was due to both diocese being in the same area.

The next section will discuss the main features of the cathedral which are as follows the Nave, what the candles symbolise, the font and relating this to baptism and the altar.

The Nave

The Nave is the aisle in the centre of the cathedral; where there are two sides to pew (seating area). One is the north aisle which is on the left and the south aisle which is towards the right. The word nave in Latin means ship, relating this to cathedrals the people attending worship on the ship symbolises the priest and the passengers are travelling towards God.

Lichfield cathedral -: from the north aisle you will be able to see all the building. In this aisle you will be able to see the shrine of St Chad. Also in 2003 during the process of rebuilding the nave the cathedral found a monument which was to be of the Lichfield angel. The Lichfield angel is a remarkable survival of early medieval monuments which is believed to be from the 8th century. The limestone panel was broken into three parts but still intact, there is three pieces. The carving shows an angel which is Archangel Gabriel, his right hand raised in blessing and the left bearing a foliate sceptre. It was first unveiled to the public in 2006, when visitor numbers to the Cathedral trebled.


Coventry Cathedral -: once again in the Coventry there are windows which are the nave windows. There are 10 windows that are directed northwards which reveals journey of life people go through as humans. The only way to get a good view of the windows is looking from the altar.



Candles have a lot of meanings they may symbolise the light of life, hope which signifies the flicking of the light in the darkness shows passing of goodness. Most cathedrals will have a stand where pilgrims can light a candle which will be associated by a prayer. Also a paschal candle will be lit during Easter which symbolises resurrection of Jesus. In Sikhism we light candles during Diwali which symbolises Guru Gobind Singh being released from prison and reaching Amritsar on the day of Diwali.

Lichfield cathedral-: Lighting a candle at Lichfield cathedral is important to some pilgrims whom are suffering from pain and they can write a prayer request to god on any situation that it is hurting them. They will be hoping that they get cure from this prayer.

Coventry cathedral- : use candles called processional candles. The candles used are not wax candles, but oil filled candles similar to those used on the altar. The Candles represent the light of Christ; they are carried in procession, and used to lead the clergy to the points in the Cathedral where the Communion is distributed.

The Font

The font is important in cathedrals because it is used for baptism. Baptism is one of seven sacraments and symbolises the process of washing clean the pilgrims. The font is usually located at the back of the cathedral near to the central aisle. As the central aisle symbolises the Christian journey through life towards God. Jesus was baptised by St John. In 1236 it was compulsory for cathedrals to cover the font has water is baptised everyday. Fonts may have a lid on top because during Easter the water is blessed. This holy water had to be protected from dust, theft and dirt. Mursell demonstrates baptism as 'the sprite unites us to all the holy beings'.

Lichfield cathedral: the font is based in the north transept where Christians (children and adults) get baptised which symbolises forgiveness offered in Jesus. The window dates back to 19th century which shows how Jesus and Mary descended from King David's father Jesse.


Coventry cathedral: The window is in front of the font, which was done by John Piper. This shows the light of God and Jesus Christ breaking into the world. The font is made of rock brought from the hillsides of Bethlehem this is where Jesus was born.


The Altar

The altar is made of stone or wood both having a meaning behind the material for example stone altar symbolises sacrifice and wood altar is to do with the meal. The Altar is the holiest place in the cathedral, which has a special table, used for shared meals this for the remembrance of the last supper when Jesus had a meal with his followers this is the process of the Eucharist. The candle on the table symbolises 'reserved sacrament' that is bread and wine which was blessed but not used during Eucharist and kept to use again.

Lichfield cathedral the altar is located in the Lady Chapel which is dedicated to St Mary and St Chad's. Mary is seen in the screen behind the altar and around the chapel there images lady saints. The Lady Chapel also contains the 16th century Herkenrode glass it was brought to England in 1802 by Sir Brooke Boothby. This lovely 16th century stained glass in the Cathedral was brought to Lichfield to replace stained glass windows destroyed during the English civil war. The mullions which hold the glass were badly decayed. The glass sums up the values and practices of life during the Renaissance period (development of art), especially the central role of religion and culture.

Coventry cathedral this image shows clear glass that joins the life and work of the city with prayer and worship of its cathedral. The oak altar slab was made by a school. The name of the altar is the chapel of Christ and the servant.



In conclusion whilst doing my assignment on cathedrals, it found that imagery is the most vital part in the cathedral because if we do not know what something symbolises in the cathedral then you will not get the best experience out of visiting the cathedrals. My preference from both of the cathedral was the Lichfield cathedral because the Coventry was plain and simple where the Lichfield cathedral was bigger and ancient. During my project I have developed my understanding by knowing what things mean in the church and how it relates to religion or spirituality. One difficulty whilst doing this assignment was comparing cathedrals.