Write a research paper on st Patrick’s cathedral.It is a theology research paper. MLA style. Totally 7 pages. I will provide a example essay, must read it before you write. Work cited needed.
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Bethesda Fountains Spiritual Significance
Bethesda Fountain, also titled Angel of the Waters, is arguably the most spiritual place
in New York City. The centrality of its location, its religious and secular roots, and the diversity
of the people who visit it make the fountain a universal center of tranquility and spirituality.
Researching the history of the fountain gave me an invaluable insight into why it has such a
powerful and magnetic effect. While my groups research was largely based on the fountains
history and the history of the area surrounding it, I also appreciated the parts of our presentation
that focused on Bethesda Fountains varied role in contemporary New York City life. Allys
videos of a recent Flash Dance wedding proposal and the fountains appearance in a dance scene
in the movie Enchanted showed how this place is a cross-cultural center where people from all
walks of life share love, music, and dance. Nicos interviews with Bethesda Fountains presentday visitors also attested to the fountains all-encompassing effect. People of all religious and
nonreligious beliefs agree: Bethesda Fountain is magical.
Before I go into more detail about my
experience researching the fountain, I would like to
begin by describing Bethesdas spiritual
significance in my life prior to the project. The
picture on the top right of Page 2 shows my mom
and my older sister visiting the fountain in January
of 1995, only four months after my parents and
sister immigrated to America. At the time, they
lived in Midwood, Brooklyn and regularly took the
subway to Central Park because statues such as the
Angel of the Waters reminded them of the sculptures in Saint Petersburg. This demonstrates
how, just like in the case of the Irish Hunger Memorial, Bethesda Fountain plays a key spiritual
role in immigrants experiences. Artistic creations help immigrants to acclimate to their new
environment by providing them with a place to find serenity in a difficult time of transition,
perhaps, like in the case of my parents, by reminding them of their homeland.
My parents wanted to share this spiritual experience with my sisters and me. For this
reason, when my sisters and I were little, our parents often took us to New York City to take
walks in Central Park. At the time, I did not know what Bethesda Fountain was called; it was this
magical mystery place with a towering angel statue where there were always mind-blowing
street performances and endless opportunities for people-watching. The performances, whether
musical or dance numbers, were great equalizers, enjoyed by tourists and New Yorkers alike.
Unfortunately, with time, we started making the trek from New Jersey to New York less and less
often due to the ever-increasing workload throughout middle and high school. For a time, I
forgot about the cool mystery fountain of my childhood. Then in August of 2015, I moved to
New York City for college and started jogging in Central Park. Every time that I got to a certain
spot in the middle of the park at 72nd street, I would encounter crowds of tourists and glimpse
the top of a bronze statue of a female angel. One day, I descended the stairs of what I soon found
out to be Bethesda Terrace, and the magic mystery fountain, which I soon found out to be
Bethesda Fountain, came back into my life. I find this whole experience to be spiritual because it
shows the cyclical nature of life; returning to places from the past is always a stirring experience
replete with nostalgia and reflection. Bethesda Fountain is a spiritual place in itself, and the fact
that it was such a meaningful part of my childhood adds to the sentimentality of visiting this
cultural center of Central Park.
Learning about the history of Bethesda Fountain revealed to me that the fountains
spiritual effect is not an accident; from its very conception, Bethesda Fountain was intended to
bring peace to all of its visitors. In order to fully understand the origins of the fountain, it is
necessary to examine the history of its location: New York, and more specifically, Central Park.
Through my research in Curbed NY, I learned that Central Park was designed according to
Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsteads 1858 Greensward Plan. From the start, Central Park
was meant to be a safe and peaceful place in the middle of a chaotic city. This is demonstrated by
its placement in the middle of the city, equidistant from the Hudson and East Rivers on each
side. As we learned in class, the waterfronts were dangerous places to be, full of crime and
corruption. Bethesda Fountain, placed at the center of the center, can be said to have been the
safest possible location. I was surprised to learn that, to this day, much of the original plan for
Central Park has remained intact: As originally intended, a gorgeous walkway known as The
Mall (pictured below) is lined with elm trees and runs from 66th to 72nd street, culminating at
Bethesda Terrace. Calvert Vauxs idea of
an Italian terrace with a central fountain
built to exude a message of love also
remains part of the scene. Contained within
the fountains message about love is the
idea of healing, which has to do with the
history of the water in New York City.
According to NYC.gov, the fountain was
made to celebrate the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which brought fresh water from
Westchester County into New York City. Just like the other aspects of the fountain, this is a
celebration that can be shared by all types of people, since all of humanity needs fresh water in
order to live.
The fountains historical tie to fresh water is not only secular in its connection with the
Croton Aqueduct, but also has religious connotations. Both names for the fountain Bethesda
and Angel of the Waters allude to a Biblical fountain in Jerusalem described in the Gospel of
John. I was amazed at the passage from the Gospel of John that was quoted at the statues
dedication in 1873, which powerfully conveys its origin as a place of healing: There is by the
sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue, Bethesda an angel went down at a
certain season into the pool whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in, was
made whole of whatever disease he had” (Curbed NY). The fountains sculptress, Emma
Stebbins, drew a comparison between the biblical pool at Jerusalem, which had healing powers
after being troubled by an angel, and the New York fountain, which displayed the pure water of
the Croton Aqueduct. Stebbins created the fountain in
a way that had both a religious and secular meaning.
As described on NYC.gov, The lily in the angels
hand represents purity, while the four cherubs below
represent Peace, Health, Purity, and Temperance.
Everyone, religious or not, can embrace the qualities
embodied in Stebbinss statue.
Another aspect of Bethesda Fountain that can
be spiritual to people of any faith (or lack thereof) is
its focus on nature. Anna, who researched the
architecture of Bethesda Terrace, found a quote by Calvert Vaux that described his intention in
designing a sweeping promenade that would lead to a terrace overlooking the lake (NYC.gov).
Vaux described the centrality of nature in the whole construction by saying Nature first, second,
and third architecture after awhile (NYC.gov). It is indisputable that this plan, aptly called the
Greensward plan, succeeded: the elm-lined walkway that leads to the Terrace, the lily-pads the
float in the fountain, the trees and bright green grass that surround the Terrace, and the calm lake
at the end of it all create an oasis of nature that is unperturbed by the surrounding city. It is easy
to imagine how Anne Lamott would appreciate the stunning greenery as an embodiment of
Gods love. Since nature is in itself beautiful, people who do not have religious faith can also
enjoy a spiritual connection with the landscape of Bethesda Terrace. Through nature, Calvert
Vauxs plan for a place of love has proven to be a great success.
The fountain, a symbol of peace and love, was important in light of the historical events
during its construction and after. The fountain was built and dedicated in the 1860s and 1870s,
the era of Civil War and Reconstruction. Just like in the case of the Irish Hunger Memorial and
9/11, the projects construction was slowed by the
turbulent times surrounding the Civil War, but it was
installed in time to provide people comfort. The
Central Park Conservancys Historian Sara Cedar
Miller described how Peace, the political equivalent
of Love, was prayed for daily when the nation most
needed healing waters (Curbed NY). The fountain
also served as a place of contemplation, reflection, and
tranquility for New Yorkers decades after its
construction during World War II. The picture on the bottom right of Page 5 shows New Yorkers
gathered at the fountain on a Sunday in September of 1942. The fountains emotional healing
powers have proven effective during these trying times of the past.
Today, in a world plagued by news of terror attacks, gun violence, racism, refugee crises,
and other negative events, the fountain continues to be a place of spiritual respite. Bethesda
Fountains history serves to provide inspiration because it tells a story of decay and then
renewal. In the 1970s, the Bethesda Terrace was almost in ruins and was defiled by graffiti, as
was a large part of Central Park. In the 1980s, the Central Park Conservancy undertook a
complete rebuilding of the terrace and cleaned, repainted, and resealed the fountain. According
to the NYC Parks Department, “bronze specialists now wash and wax the fountain annually”
(Curbed NY). Those who argue that our society is in decline due to the aforementioned negative
news would benefit from such an inspirational comeback story. However, even without
knowledge of Bethesda Fountains history, people find it to be a spiritual place. Nicos part of
the research revealed the unanimous opinion about Bethesda Fountain: it serves as a place for
peace, spirituality, and rest. That is the magic of Bethesda: A 62-year-old Catholic woman can
derive the same tranquility from this mid-park haven as a middle-aged atheistic man.
Bethesda fountains history provides the reasons for Bethesda Fountains spiritual
significance. Its designers and sculptress intended for the fountain to be a serene centerpiece of
Central Park, and they succeeded for a variety of reasons. They made the fountain an accessible
sanctuary for all by combining secular themes such as the fresh water of New Yorks Croton
Aqueduct and nature, including lush vegetation and a sprawling lake, with the religious
background of Jerusalems biblical healing Pool of Bethesda.
Bindelglass, Evan. “Unraveling the History of Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain.” Curbed NY.
Vox Media Inc., 16 July 2014. Web.
“Central Park, Bethesda Fountain.” NYC.gov. The City of New York, n.d. Web.
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