High atop the Washington National Cathedral sits a Sith Lord, his menacing visage exiled there by the whims of a child. And, technically, National Geographic. Yes, the helmet of Darth Vader adorns the northwestern tower of the National Cathedral. It's a weird story and not Star Wars canon whatsoever.

It was only last week that we examined Darth Vader's Judaic roots. We've also noted the Predator's Buddhist leanings, but that's neither here nor there. Now we have Anakin Skywalker's fearsome bust plastered on an Episcopalian cathedral as a rainwater-deflecting grotesque. (If he were a gargoyle, rain would pour out of his respirator.)

How did Darth end up on a church? By plumbing the demented minds of America's youth. Explains a pamphlet from the Washington National Cathedral:

In the 1980s the Cathedral, with National Geographic World magazine, sponsored a competition for children to design decorative sculpture for the Cathedral. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader of Kearney, Nebraska who submitted a drawing of this futuristic representation of evil. Darth Vader was placed on the northwest tower with the other winning designs: a raccoon, a girl with pigtails and braces and a man with large teeth and an umbrella.

It doesn't specify if the other figures were "future representations of evil," so I'm just going to assume that America's children were inordinately afraid of teeth in 1980.

To see Darth Vader, you'll need binoculars. From the cathedral's northwest parking lot, zoom up to the northwestern tower. He can be found between two arched windows — up and to the left of a larger skull bust — silently plotting ways to transform the Washington Monument into a giant lightsaber or free the Wampas from their holding pens in the Pentagon.


Washington National Cathedral via Atlas Obscura. Top image: Farragutter and Steve Heap/Shutterstock. Bottom image: Statixc's Flickr.