“Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”
—Henry II of England, wondered aloud about removing the thorn, Archbishop St. Thomas Becket, from his side.
Saint Archbishop Thomas Becket (1118-1170) had a falling out with his friend, England’s Henry II (1133–1189). Becket went into self-imposed exile in France. After he and the king reconciled, Becket returned to England but he remained duty-bound to the Church, continuing to act in favor of the church and not in the interests that the king thought were best for his rule.
At this point Henry exclaimed, “What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Knights loyal to King Henry took it upon themselves to assassinate Becket on 29.December.1170. Becket was canonized; and since that time people have gone on pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, the site of Becket’s murder. Two years after his death Becket was canonized by Pope Alexander III in Segni, Italy.
We took a pilgrimage of sort to Canterbury Cathedral, by way of The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Located in Upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters is where the Museum’s Mediaeval art collection is displayed. Included are major architectural elements from several European monasteries. It is these cloisters that give the place its name. The Cloisters offered an exhibit titled, Radiant Light, windows from the Canterbury Cathedral. This was the first time the windows had left Canterbury.
We walked from the 190th Street A subway train station through Fort Tryon Park to The Cloisters. Only late-blooming forsythia added color to the dark gray cliffs of Manhattan schist in Fort Tryon Park.
Fort Tryon Park offers sweeping views of the mighty Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.
This archway and steps lead to the highest point in Fort Tryon Park.
Flowering trees framed our view of The Cloisters from the highest point in Fort Tryon Park.
With its dark gray granite exterior and heavy Romanesque architectural style, The Cloisters was created to resemble a building from the Middle Ages; but it was built in the early 1930s. Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters were gifts to the City of New York from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960)
The object of our pilgrimage was to see the Ancestors of Christ Windows on loan to The Cloisters from Canterbury Cathedral. This window shows Thara and his son Abraham.
The windows were created shortly after the death of St. Thomas Becket and during the lifetime of King Henry II. The two photos above show Lamech, the son of Methuselah. My Mom and aunts used the phrase, “as old as Methuselah” when describing someone or something very old.
I must admit that when I read the Bible, the sections that spoke about who begot whom was always daunting, stopping me in my tracks. Seen in the two photos above are Phalec, the son of Heber and the father of Ragau, and Jared, an Old Testament patriarch representing the fifth generation after Adam.
The three photos above show details of the window’s border panels. The rich, jewel-like colors are dazzling.
In the two photos above is shown someone everyone knows, Noah. Who thinks that he looks like Russell Crow?
The Cuxa Cloister, 1130–40, is from the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa near Perpignan, France. Each cloistered area of the Museum is a restful, peaceful place.
Our last sight at The Cloisters came from the hands of Mother Nature, not Man. The Museum’s resident hedgehog, we call him Henry the Hedgehog, was munching on his grass dinner.
Watching Henry the Hedgehog eat gave us an appetite. We walked back through Fort Tryon Park into Washington Heights for dinner at the Rusty Mackerel.