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A Frankish noblewoman, who would later become a nun, gave birth fourteen hundred years ago to a child named Bavo, the namesake of two St. Bavo Cathedrals, one in Ghent, Belgium, and the other in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

Our story focuses on the Ghent Cathedral. If they wanted to avoid confusion, you'd think they'd choose different names for the cathedrals, but people in the region are big fans of this Bavo guy. His story mirrors that of Gautama Buddha: inheriting vast material wealth and having no particular ethical position, squandering his parents' money on champagne and good times, then recognizing the inherent emptiness and meaninglessness of material sense gratification, abandoning his life of excessive aristocratic pleasures and entitlements, becoming devoted to a monastic spiritual order, and giving his money to the poor. Aside from the spiritual awakening towards the end, it's the story of Donald Trump.

Irony of ironies! For all of its breathless odes to the spiritual virtue of poverty, for all of its penniless saints, the Roman Catholic "look" is pure floss and unalloyed bling. The St. Bavo Cathedral would put to shame the most extravagant art collectors with its astonishingly gaudy collection. Familiar with the golden ornamentation of the original Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed first by the Babyonians and then by the Romans, Catholics sometimes see themselves as divinely ordained to build the most ostentatious and theatrical altarpieces available. 

The museum concept grew from the "mystery religions" of the Greeks and Romans, especially in connection with the ceremonies and lifeways of the Pythagoreans. As a group at constant historical odds with the conquering Greeks and Romans, Jewish legal decisors, such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein זצ״ל, ruled that museums and theaters could be forbidden, as places of ill moral repute. This ruling was partly to prevent Jews from converting to Catholicism, dazzled by the sheer magnificence of places like the St. Bavo Cathedral, with their priceless artworks, free admission, and scenes gory enough to rival a Tarantino film.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent

Saint Bavo's Cathedral, also known as Sint-Baafs Cathedral (Dutch: Sint Baafskathedraal), is a cathedral of the Catholic Church in Ghent, Belgium. The 89-meter-tall Gothic building is the seat of the Diocese of Ghent and is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent. It contains the well-known Ghent Altarpiece.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent

Comments (1)

Cassidy Marsh

Saint Bavo Cathedral is stunning house of worship! I spent hours in there looking at all the little details.