It’s autumn here in Ireland. The days are shorter, the quality of the light is changing, it’s getting colder. Across the globe in Chile, it’s springtime, the days are growing longer and warmer, and even when it rains it carries with it the promise of spring flowers and summer heat.
But Irish hearts are as warm as the Chilean spring today as we reach out spiritually and emotionally to the city of Santiago where a new Bahá’í House of Worship is being officially dedicated, in a prayerful ceremony that has attracted thousands of Bahá’ís from around the world, including a sprinkling of Irish.
Ten years in the making, this extraordinary light-filled temple is an architectural wonder of the world. Designed by the Canadian architectural firm of Hariri Pontarini, the new House of Worship nestles in the foothills of the majestic Andes mountains.
Light was its spiritual and design inspiration. Using translucent marble and glass the architect’s plan was to fill the temple with light during the day while causing it to shine forth when darkness fell like a graceful, glowing, billowing beacon of light.
The Chilean House of Worship is a building of great beauty, but it is also a practical space that welcomes people of all religions and none, ‘a haven for the deepest contemplation on spiritual reality and foundational questions of life, including individual and collective responsibility for the betterment of society’.
It is the last of the great continental Houses of Worship to be constructed, joining its sister temples across the world. And soon to be joined by a new generation of temples, both local and national, being built in places as far distant as Papua New Guinea and Battambang.
The Bahá’í Houses of Worship in time will become centres not just for worship but also for education and scientific learning as well as cultural and humanitarian endeavours.
The Santiago House of Worship is a tranquil and serene place for prayer, it’s nine entrances open to all, it’s nine gardens filled with scent and beauty. Already the fruits of this beautiful building are evident in the growing local awareness of the power of prayer. This awareness has had profound effects on the surrounding community.
So as the people of Chile welcome representatives from their own country and from across the globe to the official opening of their House of Worship, we in Ireland join them in prayer and wish them well from the bottom of our hearts.