The world's largest Cathedral, St John the Divine in New York City is a majestic house of worship that inspires many. While it is still unfinished, it is filled with intriguing images that leave some visitors mystified - including sculptures from the 1980s that seem to foretell the destructive events of 9/11. According to Senior Cathedral Guide, Tom Fedorek, the key to these apocalyptic images is Cathedral namesake, St. John -- author of the last troubling book in the Bible, Revelation. The First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, is home to one of the most sinister chapters in American history, the Salem Witch Trials. Current Pastor Jeffrey Barz-Snell and author Nancy Schulz reveal how in the 1690s, this Puritan community's zeal for righteous living ends up convicting and executing 20 innocent residents on charges of witchcraft. Traveling to the Grand Mosque of Paris, we discover how this exquisite Muslim sanctuary secretly protected Jewish citizens from Nazi terror, when German forces occupied France during World War II. Author Robert Satloff reveals details of this still little-known story. In the United States, we learn of the rise of one of America's flashiest churches, the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California. We also get the behind the scenes story of its astonishingly quick fall into bankruptcy from the grandson of church founder, Bobby Schuller, and discover the Catholic Church's plans for the Cathedral from Father Christopher Smith. Finally, we delve into a mysterious story at Boston's iconic Old North Church. 20 years before Paul Revere had lanterns hung in its steeple, granting the Church a place in America's history books, another man of mystery, John Childs, leapt from the church steeple - to fly!
In the 1840s, Rev. Hillhouse Buel builds a new home for Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland, Maryland. Unbeknownst to his congregation, Buel covertly builds his church over a labyrinth of long-forgotten tunnels, to use them as a hiding place for runaway slaves. Buel hires a 14-year-old runaway, Samuel Denson, to work as the Church sexton - and help other slaves reach freedom. Rev. Edward Chapman and historian Stephanie Gates reveal Emmanuel Episcopal's role in the secret network called the Underground Railroad. In 1908, German-born Hans Schmidt is a Catholic priest at St Joseph of the Holy Family in New York City. Father Schmidt preaches the virtues of a pure life... until he begins a torrid, sacrilegious affair with his beautiful young housekeeper, Anna Aumuller. The two even have a secret wedding ceremony inside the church. But when Anna becomes pregnant, Father Schmidt's actions will shock the world. Crime reporter Bill Jensen reveals the stunning details of one of the bloodiest crimes to ever rock a house of God. In 1920's Los Angeles, charismatic preacher Aimee Semple McPherson becomes a sensation - building one of the country's first mega-churches, Angelus Temple. But at the height of her fame, Sister Aimee goes missing while relaxing at the beach - then turns up 5 weeks later wandering in the desert on the Mexican border, claiming she'd been kidnapped! Historian Caroline Harris tells the details of the wild story that riveted the country. Westminster Hall & Burying Ground is the final resting place of many of Baltimore's elite citizens. In 1849, it becomes the final home of horror author Edgar Allan Poe. Tour Guide Luann Marshall divulges how Poe's still mysterious death is just the beginning of a story more macabre than any tale he ever wrote. Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most recognizable churches in the world. Just a mile away in Paris, stands the smaller, more subdued chapel of St. Medard. A dark and little-known secret links these two churches. Tour Guide Heath Stimmler-Hall reveals the stunning true story of an unspeakable taboo that was broken here - and the remarkable turn of events that provided the sinners a path to redemption.
One of the most secretive landmark buildings in Hollywood is the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre. This controversial religion counts some of Hollywood's biggest stars as members. But critics charge the religion is more focused on material than spiritual concerns. Authors Steven Hassan and Mark Ebner reveal how science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard founded the movement - and what led his church to fall into the crosshairs of the FBI. In the 1890s, the preferred house of worship for the upper crust of Fall River, Massachusetts is Central Congregational Church... including businessman Andrew Borden, and his daughter Lizzie Borden. When Andrew and his wife Abby are killed with a hatchet in their own home, Lizzie becomes the prime suspect. Author Stefani Koorey reveals the church's surprising role in one of the most sensational murder trials in our country's history. St. Patrick's Cathedral in midtown Manhattan is one of America's most prominent churches - but at the bottom of the Manhattan sits the smaller, feistier original - Old St. Patrick's. In the 1830s, the Church was almost destroyed, but fought back under the leadership of a priest who never backed down from a fight, "Dagger" John Hughes. Author Richard McCann and Cathedral Historian Jim Garrity reveal the church's violent and dramatic past. In 1920's Los Angeles, the moguls of the city's new moviemaking industry fund one of the most remarkable synagogues in the world, Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The dazzling synagogue's most daring feature is a mural surrounding the sanctuary - artwork some think defies the second commandment forbidding graven images - a move no other synagogue in the world dared do! Just weeks after the Temple opens, the building suffers structural problems. Senior Rabbi Steve Leder reveals how the Temple's Hollywood connection almost led to its undoing. Paris is home to some of the grandest churches in Europe - and the grandest of them all may be the Eglise du Dome. Built as a chapel for royalty, it's now the final resting place for one of France's greatest heroes. But does its imposing sarcophagus really house the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte - or are thousands of visitors being duped by one of history's greatest acts of subterfuge?
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