|A Great Temple on the Prairie|
History of St Paul’s Cathedral
Prior to 1903 Archbishop Ireland already established that he would undertake the enormous task of building a great cathedral.
He first favored sites in what is now the Midway district, situated centrally between the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. However, no land could be acquired and Ireland soon set his sights on other properties.
In a chain of events that moved so rapidly, Archbishop Ireland believed them to be a sign from God, the current site on Summit, Selby and Dayton Avenues was chosen for the new cathedral.
In 1903, Charles H.F. Smith and A.B. Stickney, two prominent local businessmen, offered to purchase the Kittson Mansion on Saint Anthony Hill, an ornate but neglected Victorian home, for use as the archepiscopal residence.
Ireland immediately rejected the offer, citing the frivolity of such an ornate home for a bishop's residence.
But in April 1904, Archbishop Ireland went back to Smith and H.C. McNair and informed them of his desire to build a great cathedral on the Kittson land. They immediately obtained the Kittson property and deeded it to the church.
Ireland later noted that "seldom has an act of mine received such universal approval as the selection of that site." Shortly after the purchase, Francesco Cardinal Satolli, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, visited Saint Paul and gave the entire effort the sign of Roman favor. Archbishop Ireland moved quickly to assemble a Board of Consultors, representing Catholics from all parishes of the Archdiocese to assist in the task of building the Cathedral.
At the first meeting, 205 laymen and 100 priests from the area gathered to make "the initiatory step towards the realization of the great project." Ireland then named 12 laymen and six clergymen to the Executive Building Committee, which initially focused on financial issues relating to the building project, but soon turned their thoughts to the selection of an architect.
In June 1905, Emmanuel Louis Masquery was selected to design the Cathedral of Saint Paul. In January 1906, he received approval for his designs from the Executive Building Committee and work on the structure commenced.
The cornerstone was laid on June 2, 1907, in a grand celebration attended by more than 60,000 people from across the state on a sunny summer afternoon. The Cathedral's exterior was completed in late 1914, and work then began in earnest on the interior.
Archbishop Ireland had decided that the first Mass was to be held on Easter Sunday, 1915. Crews worked around the clock, and the Cathedral was ready for worship on Palm Sunday--one week early.
The interior finishes were completed as funding allowed and work on the Cathedral would continue over the next 25 years. But funding was not the only challenge the Cathedral would face.
In 1917, Masquery died suddenly, and Archbishop Ireland passed away just over a year later. Before his death, Masquery had designed three of the Cathedral's major chapels: Saint Peter's, Saint Joseph's and the Blessed Virgin Mary's, but a great deal of work remained to be done.
In 1930, Archbishop Dowling passed away and Bishop John Murray completed many of the Cathedral's final projects.
By 1933, the east rose window had been installed and builders were beginning to attach the marble veneer in the vestibules.
In 1941, the last two rose windows were installed, and the fourth and grandest Cathedral of Saint Paul was essentially complete.
Archbishop William O. Brady consecrated the Cathedral in 1958 in a five-hour rite. The Rite of Consecration is not often performed and a church must meet strict canonical requirements: it must be durably constructed, monumental in character, substantially complete and there must be absolute certainty that the building will never fall out of the hands of the Church.
When this solemn ceremony was performed, it raised the Cathedral to a higher level of prestige.
The Cathedral of Saint Paul is now formally recognized as an "edifice of merit," worthy of assuming its place among the premier houses of worship in America.
St Paul’s Cathedral – National Shrine of the St Paul in Minnesota
The St Paul’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. It is the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. One of the most distinctive cathedrals in the United States, it sits on Cathedral Hill overlooking downtown St. Paul and features a distinctive copper-clad dome.
On March 25, 2009, the Cathedral was designated as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican.
Building and Architectural Facts of the St Paul’s Cathedral
Bond of Spiritual Affinity
In 2009 the St Paul’s Cathedral was designated as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul to be a privileged place of pilgrimage for the United States.
In 2012, the Vatican established a “bond of spiritual affinity” between the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome and our Cathedral. This means that you can make a pilgrimage here and enjoy all the spiritual benefits as if you are able to pray at the tomb of the Apostle Paul in Rome.
As a sign of this spiritual closeness, the St Paul’s Cathedral has received the gift of a stone taken from the ancient wall surrounding the tomb of Saint Paul.
This precious relic was on display in the Cathedral’s sanctuary throughout the day on Sunday, May 20, 2012 to celebrate this newly-established “bond of spiritual affinity.”