• Julie Balzer

Grace Cathedral: A Symbol of Hope for our Sister City of Paris

San Francisco's Grace Cathedral at night. Photo by Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

My heart sank today as I came across the images of those burning spires at Notre Dame in Paris. Anyone who has ever visited the site knows just how old and beautiful and special every inch of the structure is.

To counteract the sadness today's images brought about, I reminded myself that the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco was designed similarly (even if it was constructed 704 years later), and is still standing as a symbol of hope and beauty. The rose window, signature of gothic architecture, was designed by French architect Gabriel Loire to illustrate “Canticle of the Sun,” a poem sung by St. Francis of Assisi, the city’s patron saint.

One of the best ways to experience Grace Cathedral is to walk the main labyrinth, which replicates the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220. It's a mystical tradition into which Grace Cathedral now incorporates yoga and other forms of meditative practice for anyone in the community.

Here are 10 ways to discover the beauty and history of Grace Cathedral.

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