Photo Essay: Cathedrals of St. Louis, Part 2


The Old Cathedral (which was replaced by the Basilica upon its completion) of St. Louis is located near the famous Gateway Arch. Its exterior and interior stand in complete contrast to the Basilica. It is still a functioning Catholic church whose beauty lies in its simplicity.


I love to eavesdrop on guided tours – I sidle over and discreetly listen to what the guide is saying, and I usually only manage to gather a snippet of information. What I heard a guide say in the Old Cathedral was that the most exquisitely carved statues were made of zinc, due to its malleability: more intricate detail is possible than would be possible with marble.


Main altar. The red cloth is draped during Holy Week and symbolizes the blood of Jesus as he is crucified.


The beautiful ceiling and organ

Marble baptismal font with scene of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in mosaic tiles on the front.



Jesus with Margaret Mary



Below: The Old Cathedral from the side with Gateway Arch towering over it.



The following day, we visited another cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopalian church. I have posted pictures of the reredos in this cathedral in a previous post.




View of the side of the church, from where we parked our car. The flowering trees were quite lovely.


In this post, I am posting more pictures of Christ Church Cathedral, along with further information about the striking example of reredos. I also correct an error made in the previous post about reredos: I named the figure to the right of Jesus as St. Peter, when it is actually St. John.


The sanctuary, viewed from the narthex (the chairs were placed in a circle around the labyrinth in preparation for Holy Week).

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Rear stained glass windows with organ


Reredos behind the altar

Reredos diagram

This diagram shows the identity and placement of each of the figures and scenes depicted on the reredos.

The reredos contains 52 figures in all, telling the story of Christianity – the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, saints, martyrs, leading up to the central figure of the crucified Christ.

The reredos measures 35 feet in height, with the central spire rising slightly higher. It weighs 160 tons and is made of Beer stone, obtained from the quarries near the town of Beer, close to the city of Exeter, England. Each piece was carved in the studios of sculptor Harry Hems in Exeter between 1909 and 1911.

KODAK Digital Still CameraWhen complete, it was transported to Saint Louis in 230 crates, without a single stone being even slightly damaged. Each piece was put into position under the personal supervision of Mr. Hems, along with skilled artisans from his studios. It took 23 1/2 months to carve, transport, and install the reredos.  The doors in the reredos and the gates in the altar rail are bronze, made by the Gorham Company of Providence, RI.

The reredos cost $75,000 and was a gift to the cathedral from Mrs. Christine Blair Graham, who saw examples of reredos in English churches and determined to have one commissioned for her church back home in St. Louis.

The reredos was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1911.

Christ Church Cathedral contained many other spectacular religious relics, including the many stained glass windows, an impressive organ, and a pulpit designed using only nails, depicting Jesus’ journey from his ministry to the cross.

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carved bishop’s chair

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Below: The ministry and passion of Christ, sculpted using nails to symbolize the nails that pierced his hands and feet.


A mosaic dedicated in memory of Daschall Carr, 1897


The beautiful and unique Christ Church Cathedral was well worth our time to see and admire. We were given a self-guided tour which we could use to identify each of the objects of interest, but mostly we took pictures of these awe-inspiring works of art.


Photo Essay: Cathedrals of St. Louis, Part 1: The Basilica

My husband and I took a 3-day trip to St. Louis, Missouri this week. While there, we saw three cathedrals which were quite awe-inspiring.

We first visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, a Roman Catholic church. The construction of the cathedral was begun in 1907. The architecture of the exterior is Romanesque, with granite walls, rose windows and two towers. The main dome rests on an elevated drum. The cathedral was completed in 1988.

The exterior was magnificent in itself, enhanced by the magnolia and cherry blossoms.
20160320_155508The architecture of the interior is mostly Byzantine, as well as Romanesque. The interior ceilings, domes, soffits, arches and part of the walls are covered with gold mosaic tile, with scenes and portraits in mosaic. It is spectacular. I felt almost as though I was back in Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg! It was definitely a jaw-dropping experience!
20160320_150456The cathedral contains 83,000 square feet of mosaic art created by twenty artists which took 75 years to install.

The altar

The main altar

There are several interior domes. The central dome, pictured pictured below right, rises 143 feet from the floor to the central spotlight, symbolic of the power of God’s love. The sanctuary dome, pictured above and below left, pictures mosaics of the twelve apostles.

The sanctuary dome

The mosaics were created with over 41,500,00 glass tile, using more than 7,000 shades of color, which tell the story of the Catholic faith from creation to the last judgment. There are scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as illustrating more recent developments in the Church in North America, and particular St. Louis.

The main altar and dome were flanked by two small chapels, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (which we were not allowed to photograph) and the Blessed Virgin’s Chapel, pictured below.


Below: East Transept. The stations of the cross are located on the plain walls of the east and west transepts.



Beautiful mosaic of the mother and child, with angels on either side.


The All Souls Chapel (below) is designed in the Viennese Reconstructionist architectural style. Black marble is used to symbolize death and white marble is used to symbolize resurrection or eternal life. The statue is of the Risen Christ.

The narthex is a good example of Byzantine style art and architecture.  The mosaic panels contain scenes about the life of Saint Louis IX, King of France (1217-1270) and patron saint of the city. 20160320_152456

The swirling green vine is symbolic of Christ. He is portrayed in the central mosaic as “Teacher” (below left).


There is a mosaic museum in the basement of the cathedral, which explains some of the mosaics and how they are made.

Mosaic artist's workshop

Mosaic artist’s workshop

The mosaicist translates the artist’s final design into the mosaic medium. When he receives the final design from the artist, he traces the design on brown paper in reverse. The brown paper design is then cut up into small pieces that the mosacist can fit on his studio bench. He then selects the pieces of tile or tessarae, choosing from thousands of colors to reproduce the artist’s final design. He pastes the small pieces of tessarae onto the brown paper. Although the mosaicist does not manufacture the glass pieces, he often does have to cut pieces to fit the shape of the design. The gold tessarae are only installed once the colored designs are completed.



Other objects in the museum: an organ and priests’ vestments.

In recognition of the beauty and historical significance of this cathedral and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Pope John Paul II designated the Cathedral of St. Louis a Basilica in 1997.



WPC: Half-Light

The Weekly Photo Challenge is “Half-light”.

I have seen “half-light” occur at dawn, at dusk, when there is a full moon, or when there is a storm. At daybreak, the light emerges slowly as we see through a sort of haze. At dusk we can still make out objects and the sunset may produce brilliant colors. When the full moon is rising, so large and yellow, the stars are invisible but the moon allows us to see in the dark. When the sun is blocked by thick thunderstorm clouds, there is also a “half-light.”

Therefore, I picked one or two photos for each of these times.

The Dawn

I do not have a poem for the dawn.


March, 6:08 am

The Dusk


in the half-light of dusk
after the day has prepared
hard surfaces for inspection
before the night has plunged
things back into themselves
there is a settlement in which
the external and the internal are
continuous with the evening air
if you are alone at the edge
of shadows you are not alone
the hours of light shine in you
with a compacted energy that
also burns in tree and stone
partly revealed and partly veiled

-Thomas A. Clark

I paired this poem with this picture because I took it when we were leaving someone’s house after my niece’s baby shower. I still felt the glow of that happy occasion, recalling the line “the hours of light shine in you.” The night had not yet “plunged things back into themselves” but we were settled in our car to go home.


March, 6:05 pm



Dark and light
each other,
vividly etching wild colors
through the horizon.

The charm of sunset
makes me want
to scurry home.”
Tara Estacaan

The first stanza of this poem made me choose a picture with dark and pink clouds “Dark and light striking each other, vividly sketching wild colors through the horizon.” The colors in the photo are more subdued than wild, but the poem reminded me of this and many other beautiful sunsets.


July, fishing at sunset.


The low yellow
moon above the
Quiet lamplit house

-Jack Kerouac

This simple poem describes the scene below. The moon is low and yellow and the lamplight shines through the window of the house.


February, 6:00 pm

Approaching Storm


Black clouds blanket the sky
Obliterate the sun
The storm approaches
With rumbling thunder
The scene is bathed
In ominous colors.
I wait
For the hissing of rain
And the flashes of lightning
To surround me.
-Katy Berman

I always loved the thunderstorms at our summer home in northern Wisconsin. I took this picture on my first day there, excited that a thunderstorm was about to break. We would sit on the porch feeling and hearing the heavy rain that hissed around us and drummed on the roof. I was surrounded, yet untouched, by the storm. It was exhilarating.
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The afternoon sun is barely visible through the clouds.

Word of the Week: reredos

This week’s word is reredos. (And no, it doesn’t mean to do the redo over again!) Earlier this week, my husband and I took a short trip to St. Louis, which is only about 4 hours drive from Chicago (without stops). We visited some lovely churches there, and I will post pictures of them later. One of the churches, the Episcopalian Christ Church Cathedral, has an interesting feature called reredos. I had read a little bit about it beforehand and was anxious to see it for myself.

I also looked up the definition and found out that the correct pronunciation is approximately REAR – dahs. Its origin is Anglo-French, from the 14th century. It came into use in Middle English, as an alteration of Anglo-French areredos, equivalent to Middle French arere behind (see arrear ) + dos back (< Latin dorsum) (from

The definition given in is as follows:

  1. a screen or a decorated part of the wall behind an altar in a church.
  2. the back of a fireplace or of a medieval open hearth.

I was picturing something that would look like a screen, so when I entered the church I wasn’t sure whether what I was seeing was the reredos or not. It was a large carved panel behind the altar, depicting different aspects of the life of Jesus.


There were some workmen in the church moving things around for Holy Week, supervised by whom I assumed was the pastor. He approached me and I told him of my interest in the reredos. He told me that a wealthy woman who belonged to this church in the early 20th century had visited Europe and saw examples of reredos there, which she found to be so beautiful that she decided to commission one for Christ Church Cathedral back home in St. Louis. The pastor also got me some information on the history of the church as well as a diagram of what is on the panel.

In the Self-Guided Tour written by Jim McGahey, facilities manager, he describes the reredos as the “crowning glory of the Cathedral.” He wrote: “This altar screen is similar to those screens in both St. Alban’s Abbey Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral in England, and was carved between 1909 and 1911 by Harry Hems at his studio in Exeter, England. Because of its connection with these two ancient English cathedrals, we have a stone from each set into the fabric of our building.”

Below are close ups that I took of different parts of the reredos.

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Nativity scene

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Center: Jesus on the cross, flanked by Mary (on left), St. John (on right), with angels above.


Left side: Jesus’ disciples


Right side: Jesus’ disciples



Word of the Week: Zoochosis

CAUTION: The images and behaviors described below may be disturbing.

The word I chose this week is a new one: zoochosis. This word was coined by Bill Travers in 1992 to describe “the stereotypical behaviour of animals in captivity.
Stereotypic behaviour is defined as a repetitive, invariant behaviour pattern with no obvious goal or function.” These behaviors do not occur with animals in the wild.  I’m sure that most of us who have visited zoos have observed at least one of the following behaviors  (I know I have):

pacing or circling the same path – this is seen in many animals, particularly wolves and big cats

tongue-playing and bar biting – seen especially in primates, involving continual licking, sucking or biting of the bars of their enclosure


neck twisting – unnatural movement of the neck, often flicking the head around or bending the neck back, seen in bears, giraffes, llamas and primates

head bobbing and swaying – standing in one place swaying the head and neck or the whole body from side to side or up and down, most commonly found in bears and elephants

rocking – sitting, maybe hugging the legs, rocking forward and back; seen in primate species

self-mutilation – the animal grooming itself excessively, causing feathers or hair to fall out; biting or chewing on legs or tail; or hitting its head against a wall



An elephant in extreme stress leans its head against a pole.

Other behaviors involve regurgitating and playing or eating feces.

Zoochosis is thought to be caused by stress due to living in a confined space; separation from its natural habitat, such as being fed a diet that is not natural to its wild state and living in an alien climate; enforced idleness; direct control by humans; loss of life in normal social groups; and drugs and medical fertility control.



Reading about cases of zoochosis, I feel like never visiting another zoo again! I used to absolutely love zoos, but in the last few years, I find that I alternate between enjoying watching the animals and being depressed about the animals’ confinement. I have seen many examples of “zoochotic” behavior, especially the pacing and circling.

To learn more about zoochosis, check out these web sites:

Care2 has a 1/2 hour documentary “Zoochosis” that explains what happens to animals in captivity.

OneGreenPlanet has the same documentary. has a comprehensive article and short video clips of each of the behaviors exhibited by animals suffering from zoochosis.

Although zoos have a role to play in breeding animals that would otherwise go extinct and also have educational programs and research to benefit wild animals, it is impossible for them to replicate the environments of species who come from places as far away as Antarctica or equatorial South America. And think about it: Would you want to be confined and have people staring at you? Why is it considered normal for people in cities all over the world to observe animals whose native habitat may be the savannas of Africa or the Amazon jungle? Why not go to petting zoos where there are species that are native to one’s own habitat – such as farm animals.

These are questions that make me think about whether zoos have a positive role to play to protect and preserve animal species or whether to visit them at all.




Photo Essay: An artist’s Gallery in the Sun

While we were in Tucson in December, we visited the studio and gallery of Ted deGrazia, an artist I have always known about, because when my grandmother lived in Tucson, she met Mrs. deGrazia and they became friends. She of course introduced my grandmother to her husband, and since then, his whimsical paintings of children and Southwest scenes have become familiar to my family.

The day we visited deGrazia’s Gallery in the Sun was a good one, because the weather outside was cold, rainy and windy, no fun for outside activities. We had plenty of time to browse – and shop!

The following are pictures I took in the gallery and in the chapel behind it where he painted murals.

Entrance to the Gallery property

Entrance to the Gallery property

Plaque in the garden in front of the gallery

Plaque in the garden in front of the gallery

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

The artist explains here how he conceived and created some of the floors and walls of the gallery.

The artist explains (quoted on the central panel): “A wall  out of mud is beautiful and satisfying, but a wall of mud and straw is a union of materials that are in complete harmony and produce an aesthetic feeling, long to be remembered. To me this is the great Southwest. The mud wall is masculine – physically strong and durable. The straw is feminine – delicate as a thread. Its color is sun and gold. Some of the walls in my new Gallery in the Sun are like this.

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Wall of mud and straw, with inserted panels in plaster, containing various pictorial scenes.

“On other gallery walls I use plaster with rough gravel – heavy on the cement and not much lime. This produces a severe texture. Then, while the plaster is still wet, I paint it with at least three colors, sometimes as many as six. Colors are used to achieve the counterpart of the structure, to soften the walls. The result is that they come alive.  They sing and exude beauty.”

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Note the plaster walls and “cholla cactus” floors in this room of the gallery.

About the floors, deGrazia explains, “On some of the Gallery floors, I use mud; on others, jumping cholla cactus. The cholla, cut about four inches long …is sanded and sealed with wax. The tops of some of the cholla I dye in color. Then I bed them in cement. The finished floor produces a feeling of walking in a strange magic place. You see it, you feel it in your feet – texture on your toes, so to speak….”

You notice different colors in the plaster walls throughout the gallery, which enhance the paintings in that room.

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“Raiding Indians Steal Horses from Kino Village”

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“Fiesta at San Xavier” (Oil on canvas). San Xavier is the mission we visited a day or so later.

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“Hurricane in Santo Domingo” (Ink on Canvas) Cabeza de Vaca collection, 1973


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“Medicine Man” Oil on canvas, Cabeza de Vaca Collection

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Untitled – Oil on canvas

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“Wedding Dancers” Oil on canvas, Consignment Collection – 1957. This painting is for sale for $10,500.

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“Untitled – Family with Roosters”, Watercolor on paper, Consignment Collection, circa 1950s. For sale – $3,700.

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“Untitled – Two Angels Lighting Saguaro”, ink and gouache on paper, Consignment Collection (no date), $3,200.

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I love the vivid colors in these paintings.

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The following quoted from a sign entitled Papago Indian Legends.

“DeGrazia created this collection of Papago legends in 1975. During the 1980s, the Papago name was officially changed to Tohono O’odham, which means Desert People in the O’odham language.

“DeGrazia chose four legends to depict the Tohono O’odham tradition of storytelling: Creation of the World, the Monster of Quitovac, the Eagle-Man and Ho’ok.

“The Eagle-man was a handsome man until he accepted a drink offered by a maiden that turned him into a clumsy eagle. He flew to the highest mountain peak where he lived in a cave, then captured a beautiful Papago woman and made her his wife. She gave birth to his baby, half human and half eagle, and she hated them because they ate her people. Eetoi used his magic to kill them and rescue her.

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“Ho’ok was a wicked witch with talons of an eagle and a big appetite for children. The Indians summoned Eetoi, who drank and danced with the witch until she slept and was carried to her cave, which was sealed and lit on fire. She tried to escape but Eetoi put his huge foot on a boulder at the mouth of the cave, keeping Ho’ok inside until she burned up.

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“Ho-ok and Children”

“The Creation of the World started when Earthmaker and Yellow Buzzard were floating in space, and Earthmaker scraped dirt from his chest to make the earth and everything on it. He made two supernatural beings he called Eetoi and Coyote. Together they made people out of clay and baked them. The first were burnt black, so the creators threw them to the other side of the earth. The second batch was too pale, so they threw them across the sea. The third batch was nice and brown, creating the Papago.

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“The Monster of Quitovac lived in a lake, but when he awoke, he ate so many Papagos that the remaining ones moved to the dry desert to get away from him. Armed with a knife, Eetoi challenged the monster, who swallowed him, but Eetoi found the monster’s heart and severed it with his knife.”

The style of the two paintings below is different than DeGrazia’s usual style. The first one I think is called “The Gathering.”

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Yaqui Easter Ceremony – A sign says the following:

“DeGrazia created this collection in 1967 after observing the ceremonies with his Yaqui friends. ‘For forty days and forty nights it goes on and on,’ he explained. ‘It is their big celebration of the year. Preparations go on for a long time. All the trappings for the costumes are made. Masks are carved, paper flowers made, wood is gathered, food prepared. Then on Ash Wednesday there is the beginning. Like everything else, it starts with a small crowd.

“‘Friday after Friday until Easter it grows bigger and bigger until they almost go into ecstasy, like a big explosion. It is not consistent. It is not entirely Catholic or pagan. But it is sacred. There is an excitement attuned to both.’

“DeGrazia concluded that the Yaquis adapted the story of Jesus told by the early missionaries and ‘stylized it to fit their personality, always full of variations. I never ask because it’s none of my business. I just watch.’

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“On Saturday night preceding Palm Sunday, an all night fiesta is held with processions, religious services, dancing and the beloved Deer Dancer ceremony. The pascola storytellers jest with the crowd and pursue the Deer Dancer, who portrays a deer in the forest eluding his captors. The ceremony inspired DeGrazia to create the seven-foot bronze statue of the Deer Dancer in the gallery’s cactus courtyard.


Deer Dancer statue in the cactus courtyard

“The forty paintings in this collection are reproduced in full color in the book DeGrazia Paints the Yaqui Easter with brief descriptions of each event written by the artist.”

"Mary Looks for Jesus" (oil on canvas) Yaqui Easter collection

“Mary Looks for Jesus” (oil on canvas) Yaqui Easter collection

Procession of Judas (Oil on canvas) Yaqui Easter Collection - 1967

Procession of Judas (Oil on canvas) Yaqui Easter Collection – 1967

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The Cactus Courtyard


DeGrazia built the first guesthouse on the gallery grounds in 1954 for his friend, Western artist and writer Ross Santee. It was located … on a sandy island in the middle of an arroyo… The Island House was dismantled in 1990 due to vandalism.

The Gallery garden

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Dead Bull (Oil on canvas - Bullfight Collection - 1966)

Dead Bull (Oil on canvas – Bullfight Collection – 1966)


I bought prints of these three paintings, had them framed, and they now hang in my living room.


From a series of paintings about the journeys of Father Junipero Serra. The sign quotes De Grazia (in part): “The Rose of Castile”: from this incident I chose the title of the book. Can you imagine the joy of Serra, how he must have felt coming upon a beautiful rose in the middle of nowhere? … It brought memories of Spain.

In the following painting of men dead and dying on the beach in San Diego Bay, DeGrazia used colors which would depict the horror of that day.


“Death from Scurvy. July 1, 1769” (Oil on canvas) From The Rose and the Robe (Father Junipero Serra) collection


Serra and Portola found the Bay of Monterey, “Serra by sea, Portola by land. A bell was hung in an old oak tree, mass was celebrated, and possession of the land was officially taken for the church and the King of Spain. … They sang, the bells rang, and the spirders witnessed.”

"Starvation for Serra's Soldiers, July 1770" Oil on canvas

“Starvation for Serra’s Soldiers, July 1770” Oil on canvas


Harvesting of Wild Grapes. Fall 1773″ (Oil on canvas) From The Rose and the Robe” series about the travels of Father Junipero Serra.


“With all the bells ringing at Capistrano, all the beautiful things in that early California, right on the border with Yuma, still the Indians were unhappy. They didn’t like the Spaniards taking over their land, the horses trampling their gardens, or the soldiers spoiling their women. So they plotted and killed, except women. … They wanted to get rid of all the Spanish.”


This painting is about the Indian rebellion of November 5, 1775, in which a priest was killed.


Pioneers going west

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Leaving the gallery, we took the path to the Chapel.

The Chapel

The Chapel

Chapel interior (looking toward altar)

Chapel interior (looking toward altar)

Inside the chapel, showing DeGrazia murals

Inside the chapel, showing DeGrazia murals


We exited the Gallery in the Sun and Chapel through the swinging door at right.




Word of the Week: Xanthochroid

When I was a kid, my family used to love to play board games. These games were not only fun, but many were meant to be learning experiences. My father was particularly fond of playing games with his children. One of the games we played sometimes was Anagrams.

In Anagrams, a player thinks of a word and uses letter tiles to spell it out, scrambling the letters. The other players have to figure out what word it is.

I wasn’t much good at Anagrams, because being the youngest I had the smallest vocabulary. We weren’t supposed to use a dictionary, but to break my losing streak, I asked my dad if I could use a dictionary, just once…  He allowed it.

Of course, I turned to the most exotic letter – X – and found a word that stumped him, my mother, and all my siblings. That word was xanthochroid.  I remember this word to this day, although I never use it in casual conversation, or even in formal essays!

One thing I like about it, though, is that it describes ME!

Bilingual=Life squared

I always thought it was a noun, e.g. “I am a xanthochroid“, but in fact, it’s an adjective, according to, which defines  xanthochroid as follows:


1.(rare) of, relating to, or designating races having light-coloured hair and a pale complexion.
Notice that this word is “rare”. That’s why it’s a fun word to use in games like Anagrams! goes on to define it basically the same way as a medical term:

xanthochroid in Medicine

xanthochroid xan·tho·chroid (zān’thə-kroid’)

Having a light complexion and light hair. n.
A person having a light complexion and light hair.

Perhaps it’s a term used more often in medicine than anyplace else.

The origin of the word xanthochroid comes from  Greek:
xanthos (1829) meaning “yellow” + ōkhros meaning “pale”.

The prefix xantho- is used in many scientific words, such as xanthein (1857) “soluble yellow coloring matter in flowers,” and xanthophyll (1838) “yellow coloring matter in autumn leaves.”

Professor R. Huxley wrote a scientific paper entitled “On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind”, which was published in the Journal of the  Ethnological Society of London in 1870 and discussed the distribution of people with various racial characteristics throughout the world. Here is a short quote from that paper: 

III. The Xanthochroic Type …

A third extremely well-defined type of mankind is exhibited by the greater part of the population of Central Europe. These are the Xanthochroi, or fair whites. They are of tall stature and have the skin almost colourless, and so delicate that the blood really shows through it. The eyes are blue or grey; the hair light, ranging from straw-colour to red or chestnut; the beard and body-hair abundant. 

I don’t consider my skin to be “almost colorless” although I can see my veins on my wrist and forearm. Here, then, are some images of xanthochroid people:

Left: Two women from Iceland;  Right: a young Scot

This is the best picture taken of me in years! Dale looks OK too.

A favorite picture of me (xanthochroid) with my husband (not xanthochroid!)

Doing research on this word, I discovered that Xanthochroid is the name of a “black metal” band! According to its web site, it  strives to produce the most sophisticated and enthralling compositions in the metal scene today. … Xanthochroid combines many styles into a blackened cloud of legendary metal might.

Seems to be an oxymoron – “black”metal band named after very “white” people?? The guy in the back row at left is definitely xanthochroid!


A leaf with xanthophyll