Chapter 10— Church Steeple

Chartres Cathedral
built 1145-1220
In the summer of 1979, I was invited by the French government to the University of Paris, Orsay for a 6-week workshop on "Protein Folding". We had a holiday on August 15, 1979
for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. I took the train from Paris to Chartres that day and witnessed the parading of the "Virgin's Veil" from Chartres Cathedral around the town. I bought Villette's book and the Chartres postcards on that occasion, and spent the whole day admiring this beautiful artistic wonder. I'm showcasing the church steeples at Chartres as introduction to other churches around the world. Nothing on "steeple" or "spire" in all my books on symbolism except J.C. Cooper's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1979), "Spire" page 157— "Aspiration heavenwards; also a phallic symbol. In Christianity
it depicts God's finger pointing heavenwards." Joseph Campbell tells Bill Moyers of his experience at Chartres in The Power of Myth (1988), pp. 94-95— “the concierge, this little old fellow who took care of the cathedral, took me up to the tower, where the great bell was,
the great enormous bronze bell, and there was a little, like a seesaw. And he stood on one end of the seesaw, and I stood on the other end of the seesaw, and there was a little bar there for us to hold onto. And he gave the thing a push and then he was on it and I was on it, and we started going up and down, and the wind blowing through our hair up there in the cathedral, and then it began underneath us— "Bong, bong, bong." It was one of the most thrilling adventures in my life.” With church steeple in the shape of the Platonic Λ, we are linking to the Soul.

For my grandniece Lilly's 7th birthday (March 5, 2020), wrote this for her along
with postage stamps of chapels showing triangle (Platonic Λ) above the square.
While church steeples are man-made, they symbolize aspiration for our Higher Self—

7 sides in triangle & square
    7 sides make up the
    triangle & square
    together they form
    a house of prayer.

Postage Stamps of Chapels with Triangle (Platonic Λ) above Square

Liechtenstein 100
Rofenberg Chapel
(issued 8-12-1930)

Liechtenstein 141
Steg Chapel
(issued 10-15-1937)

Liechtenstein 391:
Masescha Chapel
(issued 12-9-1964)

Switzerland B111:
Tell Chapel
(issued 6-15-1941)

Steeple Structure
Steeple in architecture, is a tall tower on a building, topped by
a spire and often incorporating a belfry and other components. Steeples are very common on Christian churches and cathedrals and the use of the term generally connotes a religious structure. Towers are viewed as attempts to reach skyward toward heavens & the divine. Without access to libraries (since March 2020 due to COVID-19), I can't consult books on this subject. I'm sharing what was found on the web on steeples and spires.

Weathervane Steeple

What Do Spires and Steeples Represent? (By John W. Ritenbaugh)
    Such objects long predate Christianity. In fact, they go back to ancient pagan fertility rites. The male symbol of fertility was represented by the pagans as an upright stone, pillar, obelisk, or slender tower. According to Edward Carpenter, in the book Pagan and Christian Creeds, the lingam (a stylized phallic symbol) occurs all over the world. The Biblical Cyclopaedia, by McClintock and Strong, says: "Even the spires of churches are symbols retained from the old phallic worship" ("Phallus," vol. VIII, p. 55). Thomas Inman, in his book Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism, writes that ancient fertility rites and phallic worship resulted in the setting up of various architectural structures such "as we now see towers or spires before our churches, and minarets before mosques" (p. XXII).
History of the Church Steeple (By Justin Taylor)
(Originally published: Religious Product, February, 2007)
    Steeples, the pointed roofs of churches, have been included in church buildings since the conversion of Constantine and his proclamation making Christianity the official religion of his Roman State. The origins of steeples, however, have been traced back to several different traditions. Steeples on the churches, and obelisks (such as the one at the Vatican and our Washington Monument), all show the influence of our phallus-worshipping ancestors, including ancient Israelite and Canaanite tribes. These tribes had rituals including baking of long loaves of bread for blessing, which were, in turn, placed under poles representing the fertility and power of the gods. Eventually, the tall poles were included in the earliest churches.
History of Church Steeples (By David England) (March 25, 2019)
(Originally published: Religious Product, February, 2007)
    Georgian architecture was the style of the 18th century, especially from the reign of King George I, who ascended the throne in 1711, until the American Revolution (King George III). Buildings during this period closely adhered to English precedents, which were made accessible through printed books on architecture, such as the Book o f Architecture by English architect James Gibbs. The Georgian style was relatively consistent from Maine through the Southern states. Probably the two most influential European church architects, who are responsible for the traditional church architecture that we most associate with today's steeple and church designs, were English architects James Gibbs and Sir Christopher Wren. Much of America's early architecture was styled from their work overseas.
This is why churches have steeples (By Philip Kosloski,, Aug. 2, 2017)
    In church architecture steeples and towers are essentially the same thing. They are vertical structures built on the side, front, back or top of a church and soar above any other nearby building. Spiritual significance of these structures come straight from the Bible. The Psalmist speaks about God as a tower, saying, "Raise me up, set me on a rock, for you are my refuge, a tower of strength against the foe" (Psalms 61:3-4). Again in Proverbs we read, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). Towers and spires were also used to spiritually point people towards Heaven, which was traditionally thought to be located in or above the sky. Also, ancient people believed that God could be more easily reached on high places, and was reinforced in the Christian tradition with story of Moses receiving the 10 Commandments on Mount Horeb as well as Jesus's Transfiguration that took place on Mount Tabor.
Fun fact: The tallest church in the world is Ulm Minster, with a steeple measuring 530 ft,
while the tallest cathedral in the world is the Cologne Cathedral with a height of 515 ft.
J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1979)
Linga (Hindu): The callus; creativity; the masculine generative principle with the yoni as the feminine. It is pre-eminently the symbol of Siva as creator. The symbol is not one of a merely physical force but of cosmic creation and renewal of life; it is also a symbol of spiritual virility in the ascetic or yogi; it is the self-existing; an on-halos; symbolized by the pillar, column, cone, etc. It rises symbolically from, and is rooted in, the waters. In Buddhism it preceded figures as an an iconic representation of the Buddha. It is frequently associated wth the tree. (p. 98)
Obelisk: Phallic; male generative power; fertility; regeneration; stabilizing force. It is also an axis Mundi and Tree of Life, a ritual world centre, a 'finger of the sun'. In Egypt it denotes Ra; the ray of the sun; solar generative power. (p. 121) (Re-erected in Rome in 1667 to the design of Bernini, this obelisk was first erected in Egypt in the 6th century BC— the skyward-pointing sign of Ra, the sun god.)

Photographs Showing Church Steeple with Platonic Λ-Shape in Bay Area Churches

First United Methodis Church
625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA

Memorial Church
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

St. Thomas Aquinas Church
751 Waverley Street, Palo Alto, CA

First Presbyterian Church
167 Miramonte Ave, Mountain View, CA

Tripp Baptist Church
401 E Tripp Road, Sunnyvale, CA

Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
1300 Grant Road, Los Altos, CA

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
81 N 2nd Street, San Jose, CA

First Baptist Church
787 Walnut Street, San Carlos, CA

Saints Peter & Paul Church
666 Filbert Street, San Francisco, CA
Took five hours to gather the above nine photos of local churches showing the Platonic Λ-shape. I've not visited seven of the above churches. I've been to Stanford's Memorial Church dozens of times for concerts and lectues. Visited St. Thomas Aquinas Church a few times, attendind weddings of friends and relatives.

Church Steeple with Platonic Λ-Shape in Wordwide Cathedrals

Gaudi Cathedral
Barcelona, Spain (1882-2010)

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury, England (1220-1258)

Cologne & St. Martn Cathedrals
Cologne, Germany (1248-1880)

Tournai Cathedral
Tournai, Belgium (1140-1700)

Milan Cathedral
Milan, Italy (1385-1965)

St. Stephen's Cathedral
Vienna, Austria (1137-1160)

Votive Church
Vienna, Austria (1879)

Faroe Island Steeple
Church in Vioareioi, Faroe Islands (1892)

Sainte Chapelle, interior
Paris, France (1242-1248)

Gunsbach Church
Alsace, France (1751)

Sainte Chapelle exterior
Paris, France (1242-1248)

Old New Synagogue
Prague, Czechoslovakia (1270)

Mshatta Facade
Islam (8th century AD)

Temple Latter Day Saints
Salt Lake City, Utah (1876)

Kalaupapa Church
Molokai, Hawaii (1871)
Visited St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna during my first trp to Europe (July-August 1972). Did not go to the "wedding cake" Milan Cathedral, during the two days in Milan (July 1972), but went to see Leonardo's The Last Supper instead. After the 10th International Biochemisry Conference (July1976) in Hamburg, Germany, took the train to Cologne, and visited the Cologne Cathedral, climbing to the top of its tower (315 ft). Was amazed to see the casket with bones of the Three Magi there.

Oldest Worldwide Cathedrals with Platonic Λ-Shape

Cathedral St. Domnius
Split, Croatia (305 AD)

Etchmiadzin Cathedral
Vagharshapat, Armenia (483 AD)

San Giovanni Basilica in Laterano
Rome, Italy (324 AD)

Monastery St. Anthony
Egypt (356 AD)

Trier Cathedral
Trier, Germany (340 AD)

Basilica of Saint Servatius
Maastricht, Netherlands (550 AD)

Saint Eustorgius Church
Milan, Italy (4th century AD)

All Saints' Church
Brixworth, England (675 AD)

Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains
Metz, France (380 AD)

Aachen Cathedral
Aachen, Germany (805 AD)

Oviedo Cathedral
Asturias, Spain (781 AD)

Church of Our Lady
Aarhus, Denmark (1060)

St. Michael Church
Vienna, Austria (1240)

Santa Maria Maggiore
Rome, Italy (432 AD)
While researching on "Chapter 11: Compass", realized that the compass & square is the logo of the Freemasons. Wondered whether France or England had the oldest cathedrals built by Masonic guilds. France had Temple d'Auguste et de Livie in Vienne, built in the 1st century AD, while England's oldest church is St Martin's Church, Canterbury (580 AD). While searching for old churches, came across Wikipedia's List of oldest church buildings. This list shows photos of the churches, location, and dates of construction. I have included 14 photos of these oldest churches above.

Postage Stamps Showing Platonic Λ-Shape Church Steeples

Argentina 738, 2 peso
Virgin of Lujàn Church
(issued 5-12-1962)

Austia B112, 12 groschen
St. Stephen Cathedral
(issued 9-6-1933)

Belgium 738, 7 francs
Tournai Cathedral
(issued 2-13-1971)

Denmark 344, 20 øre
Kalunborg Cathedral
(issued 11-13-1953)

Brazil 687, 60 centavos
Sao Francisco de Paula
(issued 3-8-1949)

Andorra (Sp.) 44, 75 centimos
Chapel of Meritxell
(issued 2-16-1948)

Angola 495, 50 centavos
Baia dos Tigres Chapel
(issued 11-1-1963)

Bulgaria 1673, 13 stotinki
Memorial Church, Shipka
(issued 5-3-1968)

Cambodia 119, 3 rial
Preah Vihear Temple
(issued 6-15-1963)

Cambodia 311
Stupa & Crest
(issued 5-12-1973)

Cameroun C81, 25 francs
Yaounde Cathedral
(issued 12-19-1966)

Central Lithuania J6
St. Anne's Church
(issued 1-15-1921)

Congo Republic 205
Linzolo Church
(issued 2-10-1970)

Colombia 609
Manizales Cathedral
(issued 10-10-1952)

Croatia B39, 27 kuna
St. Mary's Church
(issued 9-12-1943)

Czech 148, 2 koruna
Brno Cathedral
(issued 10-22-1928)

Czech 1478, 1.20 k.
Synagogue, Prague
(issued 5-22-1967)

Bohemia & Moravia 29, 60 h.
St. Barbara's Church
(issued 7-29-1939)

Bohemia & Moravia 89
St. Veits Cathedral, Prague
(issued 10-10-1952)

Estonia 136, 25 sents
St. Brigitta Nunnery
(issued 6-10-1936)

Finland 255, 8 m.
Porvoo Cathedral
(issued 12-3-1946)

Finland 336, 30 markka
Church at Lammi
(issued 3-4-1956)

Finland 505, 50 p.
Tornio Church
(issued 5-12-1971)

France 249, 5 francs
Mont Saint Michel
(issued Feb. 1930)

France 391, 70 c.
Strasbourg Cathedral
(issued 6-23-1939)

France 590, 15 fr.
Abbey of Conques
(issued 12-18-1947)

France 674, 50 francs
Men's Abbey, Caen
(issued 12-22-1951)

France 722, 12 francs
Cathedrals at Quimper
(issued 6-12-1954)

France 887, 15 francs
Senlis Cathedral
(issued 5-17-1958)

France 1340, 50 c.
(issued 4-22-1972)

Germany 338, 2 marks
View of Cologne Cathedral
(issued 5-11-1924)

Germany 350, 5 marks
Speyer Cathedral
(issued 9-11-1925)

Germany B249, 20 pf.
Ancient Lübeck
(issued 10-24-1943)

Germany 654, 60 pf.
Cologne Cathedral
(issued 9-1-1948)

Germany 747, 20 pf.
Maria Lach Abbey
(issued 8-24-1956)

Germany 834, 20 pf.
Speyer Cathedral
(issued 9-2-1961)

Germany 9NB8, 4+1 pf.
Kaiser Wilhelm Church
(issued 8-9-1953)

Germany 6N8, 24 pf.
Cathedral of Worms
(issued 9-1-1948)

Germany 6N10, 45 pf.
Cathedral of Mainz
(issued May 1947)

Germany 5N13, 1 m.
Cathedral of Freiburg
(issued August 1947)

Hungary B101, 45 forint
Cathedral at Kassa
(issued 1-16-1939)

Ivory Coast 367, 35 francs
Kong Mosque
(issued 3-9-1974)

Jugoslavia B30, 5 d.
Zagreb Cathedral
(issued 9-2-1932)

Jugoslavia B122, 3 d.
Kajmaktchalan Chapel
(issued 1-1-1941)

Jugoslavia BB125, 7 d.
13th century Cathedral
(issued 3-16-1941)

Laos 108, 10 kip
Hophabang Temple
(issued 4-23-1965)

Latvia B27, 70 k.
Church at Liepaja
(issued 7-23-1925)

Lithuania 173, 5 litas
Kaunas Church
(issued 2-24-1923)

Luxembourg 295, 2 francs
St. Willibrord Basilica
(issued 9-18-1953)

Madagascar 414, 4 fr.
Isotry-Fitiavana Church
(issued 9-10-1968)

Netherland Indies B4
Bali Temple
(issued 12-1-1930)

New Caledonia 293
Chieftain's House
(issued 3-1-1948)

New Caledonia C92
24 fr., Round House
(issued 5-13-1972)

Romania B252, 150 lei
Stefan Tomsa Church
(issued 1944)

Panama 506, 8 centavos
Natá Church
(issued 10-10-1970)

Panama C300, 21 centavos
Saint Patrick's Cathedral
(issued 2-17-1964)

Panama C320, 1 balboa
Cathedral of Panama
(issued 2-17-1964)

San Marino 389, 2 lire
Borgo Maggiore Church
(issued 5-9-1957)

Spain 625, 5 centavos
Burgos Cathedral
(issued Nov. 1936)

Spain 628, 25 centavos
"La Giralda, Seville"
(issued Dec. 1936)

Paraguay C102, 102 peso
Incarnation Church
(issued 11-20-1935)

Spain 800, 3 peseta
St. James Cathedral
(issued 3-1-1954)

Thailand 459, 50 s.
Pra Buddha Bata Monastery
(issued 11-4-1966)

Thailand 576, 50 s.
Muong Nakhon Temple
(issued 3-30-1971)

Thailand 578, 50 s.
Phra Pathom Chedi
(issued 3-30-1971)

Turkey 1261, 50 k.
Tomb of Rumi, Konya
(issued 12-17-1957)

Venezuela 833, 50 centavos
Cathedral of Bocono
(issued 5-30-1963)

Vatican City 229, 5 lire
Mariazell Shrine
(issued 11-14-1957)

Australia 568, 50¢
St. James' Church
(issued 10-17-1973)

Ceylon 284, 25 cents
Temple of Buddha's Tooth
(issued 1-15-1938)

Cyprus 122, 45 piastres
St. Nicholas Cathedral
(issued 2-1-1928

Cyprus 284, 30 m.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
(issued 11-21-1966)

Guyana 172, 8¢
Umana Yana for Chiefs
(issued 2-23-1973)

Gambia 250, 2 pence;
Methodist Church
(issued 4-16-1971)

India 213, 3.5 anna
Bodh Gaya Temple
(issued 8-15-1949

India 222, 15 rupees.
Satrunjaya Temple
(issued 8-15-1949)

Iraq 79, 1 fils
Sitt Zubaidah Mosque
(issued 4-20-1942)

Iraq 96, 50 fils
Malwiye of Samarra
(issued 1941

Jamaica 81, 4 pence
Spanish Town Cathedral
(issued 2-21-1921)

Malaya N38, 15¢
Japanese Shrine, Singapore
(issued 10-1-1943)

Nepal 54, 8 paisa
Mahabuddha Temple
(issued 10-1-1949)

Nepal 55, 16 paisa
Temple of Krishna
(issued 10-1-1949

New Zealand 238, 7 pence
Maori Council
(issued 1-2-1940)

New Zealand 271
First Church
(issued 2-23-1948)

New Zealand 274
(issued 11-20-1950)

New Zealand 275, 2 pence
Canterbury Church Centennial
(issued 11-20-1950)

Norfolk Island 98, 25¢
St. Barnabas Chapel
(issued 8-23-1966)

Papua New Guinea
, Chief's House
(issued 10-30-1952)

Pakistan 180, 7 paisa
Paharpur Stupa
(issued 9-16-1963)

Tristan da Cunha 129, 9 pence
First Religious Service, 1851
(issued 11-1-1969)

Tristan da Cunha 131, 2 shilling 6 pence
St. Mary's Church & Procession
(issued 11-1-1969)

Note: Above 91 stamps were located in my 1975 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Volumes I-III. With catalogue #s, found them in Google Images, and downloaded from the web. Click on stamp catalogue # for image sources. Adobe Photoshop was used to center off-centered stamps, enhance perforations, and darken washed-out stamps. Black background was used in many cases.

  — Peter Y. Chou
      Mountain View, 7-28-2020