Now is the time to start making plans for Christmas.
With most churches across denominations back to in-person worship, many churchgoers will find themselves in the pews celebrating the birth of Christ for the first time in two years.
Consider planning a trip around worshiping in a historic church in any of the following destinations this Christmas.
Not only is York Minster in the English city of York one of the great Gothic cathedrals in all of Christendom, but it purportedly stands on the site where Constantine the Great, who declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, was proclaimed emperor in the year 306.
Scheduled Christmas Eve services include Nine Lessons and Carols with the cathedral choir at 4:30 p.m. and a midnight eucharist at 11:30 p.m. that features The Most Rev. and Right Hon. Stephen Cottrell, the Church of England’s archbishop of York.
St. Augustine, Florida
With a history dating to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the contiguous United States.
At the holidays this family-friendly Florida destination — popularized during the Gilded Age by Henry Flagler — is illuminated by more than 3 million lights.
Visitors have the choice of several historic churches, including the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, Trinity Episcopal Parish and Memorial Presbyterian Church. Service times include 6 p.m. and midnight at the cathedral, 10:30 p.m. for Episcopalians and 7 p.m. for the Presbyterians.
Notre-Dame Cathedral — arguably the Parisian landmark — remains closed as restoration continues in the aftermath of the April 2019 fire.
Consider instead the Church of St. Stephen of the Mont (Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont). Located on the Left Bank behind the Pantheon, it is best known for its magnificent Renaissance rood screen separating the nave from the quire and chancel in the east end. The screen spans the entire width of the nave between the north and south walls and includes a loft. The times of Christmas masses will be released on the parish’s website.
Alternatively, the American Cathedral, as the Episcopal Church’s Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity on fashionable Avenue George V is commonly called, has Christmas Eve services at 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. with an additional eucharist at 11 a.m. Christmas Day.
Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious affairs. He has been published in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.