See also Three Favourite Mosques
Two of the churches appear elsewhere in these pages. To read about them in context, click on the link.
Cathedral of the Epiphany, Irkutsk
|Cathedral of the Epiphany, Irkutsk|
At the start of the 20th century the Siberian city of Irkutsk had two cathedrals and two other major churches clustered round one square. A decade of civil war and sixty years of communism saw them all either destroyed or converted to other uses. Since 1990 the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Epiphany has been reconsecrated, restored and repainted. Resembling an elaborate birthday cake it raises a smile in an otherwise rather dour city.
St Mary's, Thalassery
|St Mary's, Thalassery|
A quarter of the 33 million inhabitants of Kerala, India's most southwesterly state, are Christians and, if asked, most will say they are Catholics. They are not, however, Roman Catholics but members of the Syrian Catholic Church. According to tradition the church was founded by the apostle St Thomas who came to India about 40 AD and is buried in Chennai (formerly Madras). Whether that is true or not, the Syrian Catholic Church certainly predates the arrival of European missionaries by many centuries. This church is on the Keralan coast at Thalassery (formerly Tellicherry); in typical Indian style it is full of colour and light.
and, rather closer to home
St Margaret's, Bagendon, Gloucestershire
|St Margaret's, Bagendon|
One of the delights of the Cotswolds is the way buildings can be so much part of the landscape they seem to have grown organically from it. The tiny church at Bagendon is a perfect example, and also an embodiment of two thousand years of Cotswold history. Although the earliest parts of the building are Saxon, Roman votive artefacts have been found in the churchyard suggesting the site was of religious significance in pre-Christian times. The tower is Norman, but the nave was rebuilt in the late fourteen hundreds. The enormous wealth brought to the Cotswolds by the wool trade at that time resulted in many churches receiving a Perpendicular Gothic makeover. Nineteenth century restorations and the addition of a porch in the 1960s were done so sympathetically it is hard to tell what is new.
Maybe in a while there will be three more favourite churches …and to show I am unbiased in the religions I do not believe in, there might be three favourite mosques/synagogues /Buddhist temples/Hindu temples and even Jain Temples – though these would be selected from a rather small pool.