The Washington National Cathedral, begun at the dawn of the century, was formally completed Saturday with President Bush overseeing the laying of the final stone atop what he called "this symbol of our nation's spiritual life."
"The fabric of this Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is completed," Richard T. Feller, canon of the clerk of the works, announced to Bush and the thousands who gathered at the cathedral.Bush told the crowd, "We have constructed here this symbol of our nation's spiritual life, overlooking the center of our nation's secular life. A symbol which combines the permanence of stone and of God, both of which will outlast men, and memories."
The visitors crowded the grounds atop Mount St. Alban - the capital city's highest point - to witness the end of a project begun in 1907.
Theodore Roosevelt was president when construction began on what is now the world's sixth largest cathedral.
Roosevelt watched the laying of the foundation stone, along with 10,000 people who braved chilly damp weather to join him.
Saturday's celebrants gathered under sunny, warm skies on a day that highlighted the grandeur of the Gothic-style cathedral's newly visible facade. For years, the front, flanked by twin towers was obscured from passers by on Wisconsin Avenue by massive construction equipment and scaffolding.
Today, the massive church is set back impressively from the broad avenue on 57 acres of landscaped grounds that also house three schools, a college, the offices of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
The final ceremonial stone was a 1,000-pound chunk of Indiana limestone carved in the shape of a folded leaf. It was lifted into place atop the southwest pinnacle of the cathedral's St. Paul Tower.