The Heart of New England
Rindge, NH: Cathedral of the Pines
By Jeanne Prevett Sable
Bell Towers at Cathedral of the Pines, New Hampshire

If you are among the 100,000 or so visitors to New Hampshire’s Cathedral of
the Pines
this season, you will find more than pine trees to catch your eye and
warm your heart.

Poised on the brink of a lofty knoll facing New Hampshire's Mt. Monadnock,
the 2,000-seat cathedral is unbounded by walls. Its only pillars are living pines,
and its broad, domed ceiling is heaven itself.

How Cathedral of the Pines Came to Be

Lt. Sanderson ("Sandy") Sloane had chosen this peaceful vista in the town of
Rindge as the future home for him and his bride, Peggy Allen Sloane. But that
dream was dashed in February 1944, when the young B-17 pilot was shot down
over Germany during World War II. Wishing to share their son's affinity for this
spot, Sandy's parents, Dr. Douglas and Sibyl Sloane, dedicated the Cathedral of
the Pines there as a shrine in his memory.

In 1957, Congress recognized the shrine’s Altar of the Nation as the "first
memorial to all men and women who have given their lives in service to this
country." The Women's Memorial Bell Tower at the  entrance was dedicated in
1967 as the first memorial to America's female war dead. Today, worshipers of
all faiths flock to the Cathedral seeking solace and spiritual renewal.

Run by a nonprofit organization supported entirely by private donations, the
Cathedral is open between May and November, and hosts weddings and
baptisms as well as memorial, religious and patriotic services. It also offers a
gift shop, museum, and the Cathedral House Bed and Breakfast, with rooms
available for receptions, retreats and meetings.

Beautiful Gardens Too

Among its most recent attractions are trial gardens being grown to test the
performance of various plant species at this unique location, which is affected
by high altitude, windy conditions, and hungry deer.

A Zen meditation garden offers a place for silent reflection in honor of all who
lost their lives in World War II. It includes a delicate bamboo screen,  
blossoming cherry tree, and stones painted in Kanji characters by a local second
grade class.

Visitors may pay respects to loved ones at the remembrance garden, amble
along a well groomed pathway to a waterfall at the Mother’s Chapel, or gaze up
at St. Francis Garden, where benches and stone walls beckon.  

“I call that one my challenge garden,” says garden manager Barbara Hadsell,
because it gets half a day of sun only in the summer. Another challenge is the
variation in climate zones that shift from one garden to the next. Yet, many non-
native species unusual to the area thrive here, like the five-foot Yucca that
bloomed for the first time last year, or the tulip poplar memorial tree.

“We’re open to all faiths ... and species,” Cathedral board chairman Jed
Brummer says with a grin. Brides particularly appreciate the careful planning
that has gone into plantings near the altar, where bright colors might clash with
wedding apparel or bouquets and cut flower arrangements. Instead, the
Cathedral’s crew of Master Gardeners and other volunteers have planted
ground cover foliage plants with white flower accents. Come see for yourself.

The Cathedral of the Pines is located off Rte. 119, a few miles east of Rte. 202.
Follow the signs upon entering Rindge, N.H.

Information:

Cathedral of the Pines
10 Hale Hill Rd,
Rindge, NH 03461
(603)899–3300
(603)899–3311 (fax)
(866)229–4520 (toll–free)

Click here for lodging near the Cathedral of the Pines

About the author: Jeanne Prevett Sable is an organic vegetable gardener and author of
Seed
Keepers of Crescentville
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