In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and Moon landing, St Albans Cathedral in association with Luxmuralis is taking us on a spectacular space themed son-et-lumiere journey to transport us ‘to infinity and beyond', where medieval architecture will spectacularly merge with the space age!

I join the crowd gathered on the green outside the cathedral and marvel at the grandeur of this sensory journey through space that promises to teleport us to the edge of the Milky Way and back.

The music begins and a sudden burst of intergalactic rays transforms this grand old building in spectacular colours. We have entered part one, the Apollo Journey, with a bang.

I stand in amazement for 10 whole minutes. The entire façade is saturated in alternating colours. I enjoy my glimpse into the space voyage and am occasionally transported back to wonderful memories of an exciting Jean Michel Jarre concert I went to years ago at London Docklands.

Peter Walker, artistic director of Luxmuralis, says: "The aim is to create not just light shows, but to create journeys through art, using multiple sound and light installations and sculpture.”

People are mesmerised as they walk into the cathedral. I am handed a leaflet and discover that this space-themed installation is divided into six categories. Blue lights diffuse through the ancient space and I absorb the ambience, never having seen the Nave like this before. White luminous stardust turns this 11th century Benedictine monastery into a magical virtual environment. A shower of stars cascades down the Norman columns and medieval antiquities merge with technology, combining light colour and music transporting us on a sojourn to the moon and the stars.

I linger in the middle of the Nave, entranced by the illuminated medieval ‘rood’ screen behind the altar. I ponder on all of those scientists who have attempted to fathom the universe and on how little we actually know while staring into a kaleidoscope of cosmic colours that swirl around the statue of St Alban. This is part two, entitled Galaxy. I let my senses take me into the deep space and wallow in swirling colours and listen to the ambient musical pieces and sacred choral music.

Still standing in the Nave, I turn right and join a small crowd gathering around two screens showing black and white footage of the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing. This is part three, entitled Man Walks on the Moon. We see how the astronauts took their lives into their own hands and boldly went on their space mission to land and walk on the moon, the ultimate human adventure! I love those haunting fuzzy voices of the astronauts. I watch familiar footage of Apollo 11 lifting off and separating from the capsule. Apparently an estimated 600 million people watched as Armstrong and Aldrin left the first footprints on the lunar surface.

I walk past the altar, through the south aisle and into the Quire. A projection of our beautiful planet Earth suspended and swimming in luminous blues and greens is projected onto the 15th century Presbytery screen. Many are taken aback by the impressive visual impact.

As I step into the presbytery, I discover that I am not walking on the usual Victorian tiles but on the surface of the moon! Part five is entitled, ‘One Small Step.’ A soft lunar surface has been installed and children are falling about, giggling and absolutely loving it! I guess for a lot of children born into post modern times, landing on the moon is more of a fun fact and I wonder whether they realise the miracle of having landed on the moon back in 1969 with the then limited capacity of computers. Many selfies are being taken and adults are embarrassing themselves doing the moonwalk. I hope for their sakes they have not been caught on CCTV!

Part four, The Big Bang and the Creation is projected along the North Wall, accompanied by some eerie music. The Rose Window is inundated with a combination of medieval imagery such as words and images from illuminated texts along with scientific words numbers and diagrams algebraic formulae such as the orbits of planets within our solar system. The images are all flicking at high speed, reflecting our computer age. I am hypnotised by the aesthetics of theological and scientific imagery, but I hope tonight hasn’t solely been about sensory immersion or entertainment value, or just imagining oneself coursing through space! Hopefully this experience has triggered some ontological and scientific questions within all of us.

I bump into the Sub Dean, Rev Abi Thompson who tells me about a candlelit Mass on the Moon held in the Cathedral the day before the space voyage that recalled events on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. This mass reminds us that this event is also an invitation to reflect upon your beliefs.

This year, NASA has released information revealing that Buzz Aldrin requested a few moments of silence and poured bread and wine representing the sacrament and read some scripture. While seated within the Lunar Module, Aldrin, a member of a Presbyterian Church in Houston, recalls conducting Holy Communion taking out the parcel carefully prepared before his departure from earth, which contained the Sacrament.

Aldrin spoke to the ground crew on Earth: "I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”

He continued: "I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup.”

A sculpture of a luminous blue rocket ends the grand tour and I learn a little about the future of space exploration. I have truly enjoyed wandering around and being part of this experience and I have to agree with the Dean, the Very Rev’d Dr Jeffrey John, that cathedrals really do “specialise in awe and transcendence”.

I reflect on how little we really know and yet how our inquisitive human spirit relentlessly moves forward with courage and hope; how scientists research and hunger to know more and how, for many people, it is ultimately their faith their strengthens them on dark days.

  • Marisa Laycock moved from south west London to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city.