Cathedral History


Arches leading to the cathedral

The main construction of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral took place between the years 1913 and 1928 with work on the stained glass windows and interior decoration continuing into the early 1940s and beyond. The main Cathedral building is Gothic, while the northern and southern buildings are in the early Romanesque style.

Industrialist, John Pitcairn (1841-1916) provided funding for the project, and his son Raymond (1885-1966) oversaw the design and construction of this unique Gothic and Romanesque style complex.

The Cathedral was constructed using methods highly unusual for the twentieth century. Workshops for stone, wood, metal, and stained glass were built on site allowing designers and craftsmen to collaborate. Skilled stone carvers, woodworkers and other craftsmen from Europe fashioned natural materials to construct and beautify the building. Though all of the work was done on site, materials came from near and far.

The symbolic plan is based on the teachings of the New Church.

A notable feature of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral is the use of architectural refinements; intentional departures from vertical and horizontal straight lines (“bends in elevation”, “curves in plan”); in order to give a sense of life and movement to the building. This subtle quality represents the unpredictable path of human growth.


The Bryn Athyn Church congregation is dedicated to preserving the Bryn Athyn Cathedral as a house of Divine Worship, a center for community activities and outreach as well as a building of considerable historical and architectural importance. Restoration and maintenance is an ongoing endeavor.