An icy wind rips along a boarded-up downtown street, swirling paper wrappers into the air. A city bus roars past, trailing fumes. A man in rags begs for a handout. Two passersby ignore him on their way to lunch.
It’s a typical winter tableau for a modern East Coast city. But walk up the steps at West Saratoga Street and Park Avenue, pass through a warm foyer, and enter the sanctuary of the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, and you’ll think you’ve stepped back a thousand years in time.
Worshippers kneel in worn pews, a vaulted ceiling soaring far above them. Towering stained-glass windows admit just enough light to dispel any gloom.