You pass into the narthex, or vestibule, through
the splendidly carved Indiana limestone screen, between figures of martyred
popes - and also Pope St. Gregory the Great, who developed the great body
of liturgical music which we know as "Gregorian Chant." The
screen's symbols represent archdiocesan agencies: the local Church in
action. Symbols of the apostles show the Church universal. Side-aisle
portals dedicated to the Child Jesus and to the Assumption of Our
Lady feature shields honoring the working men and women of the
archdiocese. They are the People of God. Their financial sacrifices made
this cathedral project a reality.
|Narthex viewed from the Nave
Entering the narthex from outside, one first encounters inscribed invocations
from the litany of the Sacred Heart, mingled with symbols of Jesus Christ
and his Mother, who, as Our Lady of Victory, stands over the main entrance.
On the east wall, plaques commemorate two historic visits to the cathedral:
1) Pope John Paul II presiding at Evening Prayer on October 4, 1995, in
the presence of President Bill Clinton; and 2) the cardinals and bishops
of the United States concelebrating Mass on June 18, 1989.
The shield mounted on the west wall is the coat of arms of the Cathedral
Basilica. The upper section taken from the Archdiocesan coat of arms represents
the Archdiocese of Newark. The lower section (Sacred Heart) denotes the
Cathedral (viewer's left) and Pope John Paul II's coat of arms (viewer's
right). Behind are symbols of a basilica, linking it to the Pope: keys
("To you I will give the keys of the kingdom") and a traditional
processional canopy. "Venite ad me" means "Come
to me" (Matthew 11:28).
|Coat of Arms
The Cathedral Shop is in the narthex. So is the elevator to
the gallery and restrooms. In the gallery is the console of the
main organ, with pipes visible in carved wooden cases alongside the rose
window. A console located in the sanctuary can also play the entire organ.