A Cathedral for the 21st Century

An Oral Biography of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, compiled by Bill Smith and Wayne Pearson.

On sale now online or at the Cathedral.


New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine has been built stone by stone, story by story for over 125 years. Now collected for the first time in one stunning volume, this oral biography gathers stories behind the still unfinished Cathedral. Over 175 voices, compiled from new interviews and archived material, speak to the fascinating reasons why church and city leaders decided to build the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral, the meaning behind the building’s architecture, and an inside look at some of the world’s most noteworthy events.

New photos and freshly unearthed snapshots of the majestic structure punctuate this tome. The words of Bishops and Deans are collected alongside those of Cathedral Artists in Residence Phillipe Petit and Judy Collins, public figures David Dinkins and Al Gore, artists Madeleine L’Engle and Jessye Norman, Cathedral employees, neighborhood residents, and more, illustrating the vibrant life that fills this colossal building.

Look Inside

Take a look inside A Cathedral for the 21st Century!

About the Compilers

Bill Smith spent 30 years as CEO of the Bill Smith Group (BSG), an award winning creative office specializing in visual books and digital contact. At BSG, Smith led a global team of over 100 writers, editors, designers, illustrators and photo professionals. Smith earned a Master of Arts in Oral History from Columbia University in 2015. Projects have included an oral history of artist Sarah Charlesworth, choreographer Edward Villella, the American Academy in Rome, and private oral histories for a number of philanthropic families.

Wayne Pearson was appointed Photographer in Residence for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 2017 after bringing a forty-plus year career as an internationally acclaimed commercial photography to a close. Pearson is now concentrating on the types of photography that brought him into the medium all those years ago–portraiture, travel, sacred architecture and the farmland of the Hudson Valley. Inspired by the work of the late Frederick H. Evans, Pearson has been directing his efforts the last half dozen years on possibly the greatest of the great cathedrals of the world, St. John the Divine.

Purchase Online

$49.99 plus shipping and tax. Buy now!

Online orders are processed through Ovation Tickets. The cost including shipping is $58.74 for US orders. Tax will be calculated upon checkout. For international orders, please contact [email protected] for shipping information.

You'll recieve a confirmation email upon reciept and your order will arrive within 7 business days. Due to our current system, tracking information will not be provided. If you have any questions about your order or its status, please contact [email protected].

Stay updated with our E‑Newsletter!