In the late 1660’s, London was the largest city in Britain, with a population of 500,000. The city was overcrowded. The streets were narrow and winding. Many of the buildings were made with wood and thatched roofs. Homes were heated by an open fireplace. People cooked with fire sourced ovens. At night people read by candlelight. And so fires were commonplace.
London’s great fire of 1666, destroyed 13,200 homes, 87 parish churches, and displaced 15% of the city’s inhabitants. The city and its churches needed to be rebuilt.
Christopher Wren was appointed Commissioner for rebuilding the city.
Much like Leonardo da Vinci, Wren was quite a renaissance man. He was an anatomist, astronomer, geometer, mathematician, physicist, and he is regarded as the most highly acclaimed English architect in history.
Wren and his assistant, Robert Hooke (known for his intellectual disputes with Isaac Newton), got to work, surveyed the damage, and rebuilt the city, including 52 churches. The most famous is St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Christopher Wren would pass away at the age of 90. He considered St. Paul’s his greatest life’s work and so it was fitting he was buried in the south east corner of the church.
At his burial site you will find this encryption in black marble written by is son, Christopher Wren, Jr.
Translated it reads:
Here in its foundations lies the architect of this church and city, Christopher Wren, who lived beyond ninety years, not for his own profit but for the public good. Reader, if you seek his monument – look around you.
I bolded the last sentence for emphasis. What a beautiful grouping of words and lens in which to look at our own lives.
Wren was so talented he could construct buildings that would last for centuries. Your monument, your legacy, won’t likely be physical in nature. Your legacy might be your business, your family, your community, your students, your relationships, your faith.
Your legacy will be the positive impact you have on others.
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