In Bryn Athyn stands the astonishing Swedenborgian Cathedral. Herbert Welsh (whose feet in ancient time–1915–I will be following on my walk to New Hampshire) felt himself “deeply moved by the ancient spirit of Gothic architecture springing into life, freely, unexpectedly in the countryside near Philadelphia, the very existence of which is almost unknown even to the most cultured portions of our people.”
The cathedral, the Swedenborgians, and the town of Bryn Athyn, remain surprisingly hidden even now. When Welsh walked through, the General Church of the New Jerusalem was only 25 years old, and its cathedral was uncompleted. It’s an worth a visit.
Today Bryn Athyn is a town where, according to a recent piece in the real estate pages of The Inquirer: “More than 90 percent of its residents are members of the General Church of the New Jerusalem – or the New Church – as were their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Their town was founded in the 19th century as an enclave for followers to live among people who shared their Christian values.”
Himself a spiritual if not a religious man, Welsh was on the way to his summer home in Sunapee, and stopped here for lunch on the first day of his long walk. I hope to spend the night.