Long ago, when I was young, an ancient professor of historiography explained to me that the only straightforward, reliable histories were the natural records, like those which we read in the rings of a felled tree. Everything else is more complicated. Documents and artefacts are open to interpretation, ideas are revised, place names change. When a religious building is called a Mosque-Cathedral then it definitely hints at a complicated history.

So then, looking at this photograph might get us wondering about the role of Moorish architecture in a Catholic country. Or instead we might drift off and imagine the lingering scent of incense, sense the cool slap of sandalled feet on smooth stone floors; we might wonder if Didier himself stood in the brilliant reflected pool of window light. How could anyone resist? This Mosque-Cathedral was built centuries ago, to show faith in an almighty deity, and it is still beautiful to us today, even if we only believe in the truth of trees.


I wrote and posted this before reading the news about the Mosque shooting in Christchurch. I hope that it doesn’t seem glib and insensitive. If it suddenly disappears you’ll know that I have decided it does. March 15 2019

Blog photograph copyrighted to the photographer and used with permission by utata.org. All photographs used on utata.org are stored on flickr.com and are obtained via the flickr API. Text is copyrighted to the author, Rachel Irving and is used with permission by utata.org. Please see Show and Share Your Work