I’m looking forward to be back on PEARL MIST this summer talking about all the wonderful places we will be visiting. One of my favorite ports is Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. You sail into one of the most quintessentially picturesque old port towns, so perfectly preserved that the old center of town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s history dates back to the 1700s when the English we seeking to introduce Protestant settlers into largely French Catholic areas of Canada. Town is filled with old, historic buildings with a unique architectural style featuring the “Lunenburg bump,” kind of like a pregnant house.
One of the wonderfully preserved buildings is the St. John’s Anglican Church whose present building was constructed in the late 19th century and is considered one of the finest examples of “carpenter gothic” style. Be sure to try to get inside this all-wooden church! Tragedy stuck on Halloween 2001 when Lunenburg suffered its own version of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Painstakingly over four years the town worked to restore the church. The renovation went fine until it came to repainting the golden stars in the blue night sky over the altar.
Were the hundreds of stars just in a random pattern or did they represent an actual constellation. They called in astronomers to help, but the scientists were baffled, so began running the pattern through their computers until they were finally able to determine that the ceiling pattern of stars was the night sky as seen about 2,000 years ago. Apparently, the original artists wanted to show how the night sky would have appeared at the time traditionally associated with the birth of Jesus. But the pattern wasn’t quite the same as it would have appeared in Bethlehem because the orientation wasn’t quite correct. Setting the location for Lunenburg gave a match! The stars were repainted and covered in gold foil. The ceiling shows how the sky would have appeared at sunset to a viewer at the latitude of Lunenburg who was facing east on December 24 — Christmas Eve — two millennia ago. But how when the church was built, sans computers, were they able to paint the stars in that precise position?
So, Christmas Eve when the townsfolk from Lunenburg go to church they are looking up at stars in the exact position they would have been on that first Christmas Eve!