The Cathedral at Milan as “a Sort of World”

And, as I have said for months past that I never knew what worship was, as an objective fact, till I entered the Catholic Church, and was partaker in its offices of devotion, so now I say the same on the view of its cathedral assemblages. I have expressed myself so badly that I doubt if you will understand me, but a Catholic Cathedral is a sort of world, every one going about his own business, but that business a religious one ; groups of worshippers, and solitary ones kneeling, standing some at shrines, some at altars hearing Mass and communicating, currents of worshippers intercepting and passing by each other altar after altar lit up for worship, like stars in the firmament or the bell giving notice of what is going on in parts you do not see, and all the while the canons in the choir going through matins and lauds, and at the end of it the incense rolling up from the high altar, and all this in one of the most wonderful buildings in the world and every day lastly, all of this without any show or effort but what everyone is used to everyone at his own work, and leaving everyone else to his. (J.H. Newman, letter to Henry Wilberforce, Milan 1846)

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