ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Tourists on the trolley can't help but stare in awe of its breathtaking beauty. And who could blame them? Certainly not CNN. The news network just called Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine one of the eight religious wonders to see in the United States. It's open for service on Sunday but every other day it's filled with people taking pictures and inside.
"Thinking of God, a tower there, God is like a tower, people run to him to feel secure and I think the architecture communicates that,” said tourist Kim Schell.
Built by Henry Flagler in honor of his eldest daughter in 1889, construction was completed within a year. Groups of hundreds worked around the clock to finish the church in record time. Pastor Dudley Weaver remembers the first time he stepped inside.
"I was just awed by the beauty and the symbolism,” said Pastor Weaver.
Rich, dark mahogany imported from the Caribbean, a copper dome reaching 150 feet high and 92 stain glass windows. There's no question that attention to detail was priority one for Mr. Flagler. Every single Italian marble tile was placed by hand by Italian artisans. According to CNN, the story behind the church and its European history are what set it apart. One of Flagler's proudest projects, he is entombed here with his first wife, Mary, his daughter and granddaughter.
"We have questions from children who say is this still a church? Or they know that Henry Flagler is buried here and they say are there ghosts in the building. Others will sit and meditate for long periods of time,” said Pastor Weaver.
Here’s a list of the other ‘religious wonders’
Bahá’í House of Worship, Wilmette, Ill.
Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, Calif.
Islamic Center of America, Dearborn, Mich.
Temple Emanu-El, New York, N.Y.
Palace of Gold, Moundsville, W. Va.
Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah
St. Patrick’s Cathedral. New York, N.Y.