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Cathedral of Saint Paul, National Shrine of the Apostle Paul

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Title: Cathedral of Saint Paul, National Shrine of the Apostle Paul  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Basilica of Saint Mary (Minneapolis), Raymond Alphonse Lucker, John Jeremiah Lawler, James Byrne (bishop), Alphonse James Schladweiler
Collection: Beaux-Arts Architecture in Minnesota, Churches in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Individually Listed Contributing Properties to Historic Districts on the National Register in Minnesota, National Register of Historic Places in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Properties of Religious Function on the National Register of Historic Places in Minnesota, Roman Catholic Cathedrals in the United States, Roman Catholic Churches Completed in 1915
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cathedral of Saint Paul, National Shrine of the Apostle Paul

Cathedral of Saint Paul
The Cathedral of Saint Paul
Location Summit Avenue at Selby Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota
Built 1904 (1904)
Architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray; Whitney Warren
Architectural style Classical Revival
Governing body Private
Part of Historic Hill District (#76001067)
NRHP Reference # 74001039[1]
Added to NRHP June 28, 1974

The Cathedral of Saint Paul is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. It is the Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, along with the Basilica of St. Mary in 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. It is the third largest completed church in the United States, and the fourth tallest. It is dedicated to Paul the Apostle, who is also the namesake of the City of St. Paul. The current building opened in 1915 as the fourth cathedral of the archdiocese to bear this name. On March 25, 2009, it was designated as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican.


  • History 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Other sources 4
  • External links 5


Cathedral of Saint Paul as seen from Dayton Avenue

The first church building in what became the Archdiocese was a small log chapel built at the urging of Father Lucien Galtier. He came to the area when the settlement was still known as "Pig's Eye" (after Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant). The chapel, measuring 25 feet (7.6 m) by 18 feet (5.5 m), was dedicated on November 1, 1841. Father Augustin Ravoux later enlarged the structure, and when Joseph Crétin was appointed as the bishop of the newly established Diocese of St. Paul in July 1851, the log chapel became the first cathedral. Crétin immediately started to build a larger church to serve the fast-growing population of St. Paul. The second church building had three stories, with a library, kitchen, and school facilities on the first floor; the church itself on the second floor; and offices and living quarters for Crétin and his staff. The second building still proved to be too small for the needs of the diocese, so he started plans for a third cathedral in 1853. Construction of the building, at the corner of St. Peter and Sixth Streets in Downtown St. Paul, started in 1854 and was completed in 1858, having been delayed by the Panic of 1857 and Crétin's death. The third cathedral was built of stone, measured 175 feet (53 m) long and 100 feet (30 m) wide, but had practically no ornamentation in an effort to cut costs. Thomas Grace was the bishop at the time the cathedral was completed.[2]

The building of the current cathedral was instigated by Archbishop John Ireland in 1904. The site was formerly occupied by the deteriorating mansion of entrepreneur Norman Kittson. Charles Smith and Alpheus Beede Stickney, two businessmen in St. Paul, purchased the land and donated it to the archdiocese. At Ireland's direction, the archdiocese commissioned well-known French Beaux-Arts architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, who was also the chief architect of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, and construction began in 1906. He had a budget of $1 million, and he based the cathedral on the designs of French churches of Périgueux Cathedral at Périgueux and Sacre-Coeur basilica in Paris, as well as French Renaissance and Classical themes.[2][3]

Masqueray's open design allows visitors unobstructed views of the altar and pulpit. Masqueray died in 1917, having completed only a few designs for the interior, which has been filled by other designers in the subsequent decades.

The dome of the cathedral is 76 feet (23 m) in diameter and 186 feet (57 m) high. Warm-colored paint and gold leaf were added during a major renovation of the dome in the 1950s. The exterior walls of the cathedral are Rockville granite from St. Cloud, Minnesota (from the Clark quarry[4]). The interior walls are American Travertine from Mankato, Minnesota. The interior columns are made of several types of marble.

Baldachin of the Cathedral of Saint Paul

The interior is illuminated by twenty-four stained glass windows featuring angelic choirs. There is also a rose window in the transept designed by Charles Connick. Electric lighting was installed in 1940.

The cathedral has statues of the four evangelists in the four corners of its main pier. The life of Saint Paul is honored by a bronze baldachin, as well as massive bronze Te Deum and Magnificat grilles. The cathedral also has six chapels dedicated to the patron saints of the European ethnic groups that settled the area around the city: St. Anthony for the Italians, St. John the Baptist for the French Canadians, St. Patrick for the Irish, St. Boniface for the Germans, Saints Cyril and Methodius for the Slavs; and St. Therese of Lisieux for the missionaries. There are also chapels dedicated to the Sacred Heart, to Mary, the mother of Jesus and to St. Joseph, her husband, as well as to Saint Peter.

In 1987 the Cathedral acquired five bronze bells cast in France. The copper dome was renovated in 2002.

In 2013, in conjunction with the restoration of the Cathedral's Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music, stands on top of the central organ case dome, directly below the rose window.

May 15, 2013 - Cathedral of Saint Paul Organ Case

The Cathedral is normally open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is also a contributing property to the Historic Hill District.[5] On March 25, 2009, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared the Cathedral of Saint Paul to be a National shrine - the first in Minnesota and the only one in North America dedicated to the Apostle Paul. The Cathedral is now also known as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.

The Cathedral was visited by Eugenio Pacelli two years before his election to the Papacy in 1939.

Nearby Catholic high schools Saint Thomas Academy and Cretin-Derham Hall use the Cathedral every year for their graduation services.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Lathrop, Alan K - A French Architect in Minnesota - Emmanuel L. Masqueray 1861-1917 Minnesota Profiles. Minnesota Historical Society. Summer 1980
  4. ^
  5. ^

Other sources

  • Ernster, Barb. "Cathedral is Catechism in Stone and Glass: National Shrine Honors Paul the Apostle". National Catholic Register, June 20, 2010, p. B5.

External links

  • Official Cathedral Site
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis Official Site
Preceded by
Tallest Building in Saint Paul
93 m
Succeeded by
First National Bank Building
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