Gargoyles date back to the 13th century when they first started adorning Gothic churches. Their counterparts, the less functional but no less formidable grotesques, trace their origins back even further, to ancient Rome. But one menacing face that looms high above the Washington National Cathedral has a much more recent history. At least he does in this galaxy. Because he lived a long time ago in the one far, far away. Star Wars’ Darth Vader is a most impressive—and very real—part of the church.
Mental Floss shared the story of how Washington DC ended up celebrating the infamous Sith Lord in an unlikely place. In the ’80s, the Cathedral ran a contest through National Geographic World magazine. Four youngsters’ submissions to the “Draw-A-Grotesque” contest then had their designs added to the church. That included 13-year-old Christopher Rader’s drawing of Darth Vader.
Artist Jay Hall Carpenter sculpted the head out of limestone. It was then installed near the Cathedral’s northwest tower where it remains to this day overlooking the entrance ramp of the church. But reading about the Sith Lord’s place on the church doesn’t sound as weird—or as cool—as actually seeing it. We’re all so accustomed to the most bizarre, unusual creatures calling a church’s facade their home that a famous fictional character seems ten times weirder. But that’s not even as weird as the time in 2015 when “Darth Vader” went to see his own visage in person. Yes, Darth Vader went to church.
If right now we said, “Gotcha!” you’d probably say, “I knew it!” But this not only really exists, but you can also learn more about the Darth Vader statue at the Washington National Cathedral’s official website. Of course, in typical Sith Lord fashion it’s a grotesque, which serves no function, unlike a gargoyle which is also a rain spout.
The church should really consider adding a Luke Skywalker gargoyle to its facade. Not only was he a Jedi he was also a moisture farmer.