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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

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Title: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, John Nicholas Wurm, Edward Braxton, Timothy M. Dolan, Joseph Rosati
Collection: 1914 Establishments in the United States, Art Museums in Missouri, Basilica Churches in the United States, Byzantine Revival Architecture in Missouri, Churches in St. Louis, Missouri, Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, Landmarks in Missouri, Landmarks of St. Louis, Missouri, Mosaics, Museums in St. Louis, Missouri, Religious Museums in Missouri, Religious Organizations Established in 1914, Roman Catholic Cathedrals in the United States, Roman Catholic Churches Completed in 1914, Visitor Attractions in St. Louis, Missouri
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is located in Missouri
Location 4431 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri
Country United States
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Founded 1914
Consecrated June 29, 1926
Architect(s) Barnett, Haynes & Barnett
Style Neo-Byzantine
Romanesque Revival
Groundbreaking 1907
Completed 1914
Construction cost $3,000,000 (1914 dollars)[1]
Capacity 2,500 (floor seating)
5,000 (including galleries)[1]
Length 365 feet (111 m)
Width 204 feet (62 m)
Number of domes One
Dome height (outer) 227 feet (69 m)
Number of spires Two
Materials Granite (exterior)
Brick, marble, mosaic tiles (interior)
Archdiocese Archdiocese of St. Louis
Archbishop Most Rev. Robert Carlson

Msgr. Joseph D. Pins

Reference no. 57[2]

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, also known as the Saint Louis Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church located in the Central West End area of St. Louis, Missouri. Completed in 1914, it is the mother church of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the seat of its archbishop, currently Robert James Carlson. The cathedral is named for Saint Louis and was designated a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1997.[3]

The cathedral was built as a replacement for the previous Cathedral of St. Louis located along the Mississippi River. Although workers began clearing ground for the building on May 1, 1907, dedication of the Cathedral and its first mass did not take place until October 18, 1914, when the superstructure was complete.[4] Consecration of the church took place more than a decade later on June 29, 1926.[5] The church is known for its large mosaic installation (which is one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere[6]), burial crypts, and the addition of an outdoor sculpture to promote racial harmony.


  • History 1
  • Mosaics 2
  • Crypts and museum 3
  • The Angel of Harmony 4
  • The organ 5
  • Gallery 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Planning for the cathedral began under the authority of Archbishop Patrick John Ryan, and a variety of local businessmen.[7][8] Initial site selection indicated that the new cathedral would be built on a city block bounded by 22nd and 23rd streets, and by Pine and Chestnut streets, at a location east of the actual construction site.[7]

However, the initiative for construction was only begun after the elevation of Archbishop John J. Glennon. The architecture firm of Barnett, Haynes & Barnett was selected, and Thomas P. Barnett led the design team for the project. A ceremony was conducted on May 1, 1907 for the groundbreaking of the site, and a formal laying of the building's cornerstone took place on October 18, 1908.[4][7] By 1914, enough of the building was complete for a dedication ceremony, yet full consecration did not take place until June 29, 1926.[5] Even after consecration, completion of the cathedral's mosaics was not accomplished until 1988.

The grounds of the Cathedral also contain the distinctive circular Chancery Building, circa 1965, designed by the Peruvian-American modernist architect Wenceslaus Sarmiento.


Interior of the Cathedral

In 1912, installation of mosaics in the interior began. Completed in 1988, the mosaics collectively contain 41.5 million glass tesserae pieces in more than 7,000 colors. Covering 83,000 square feet (7,700 m2), it is the largest mosaic collection in the world.[9]

Ceiling of the narthex, passage from 2 Timothy 4:7

While the mosaics in the side chapels and sanctuary walls were designed and installed by Tiffany Studios, the mosaics in the main cathedral areas were designed by August Oetken.[4] Installation of the mosaics was completed by dozens of artisans, including Hildreth Meiere, Ravenna Mosaic, Inc,. and Emil Frei, Inc., of St. Louis.[4] The narthex of the church depicts the life of King Louis IX of France, namesake of the city and church, the rear dome includes mosaics of significant archdiocesan events, while the main dome by Jan Henryk de Rosen depicts Biblical scenes from both the Old Testament and New Testament.[5]

Crypts and museum

The church basement contains a museum dedicated to the mosaics in the church as well as some of the other artifacts found within the Cathedral. Also in the church undercroft is a chapel dedicated to the souls of former leaders of the Archdiocese. Currently, Cardinals John J. Glennon, Joseph Ritter, and John Carberry, as well as Archbishop John L. May are buried in the Cathedral's crypt.

The Angel of Harmony

"The Angel of Harmony" by Wiktor Szostalo.

In 1999, a 14-foot high, welded stainless steel sculpture by Wiktor Szostalo was installed on the side lawn of the church. The sculpture was a gift from Adelaide Schlafly in memory of her late husband, Daniel Schlafly, a Catholic layman who was dedicated to the cause of racial justice and peace. It features a winged angel with African-American features, standing behind three children with Hispanic, Asian and European features, playing a song of peace on their instruments. The statue's base is of granite and is inscribed with quotations from the New Testament, Pope John Paul II, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The sculpture emphasizes a theme of harmony, peace, and racial justice, according to Auxiliary Bishop Edward Braxton, who suggested the project to Archbishop Justin Rigali.[10]

The organ

The original Kilgen pipe organ console

The Cathedral has a large organ that was originally built by Geo. Kilgen and Son, Inc. in 1915. Originally, the organ had two four manual (keyboard) M. P. Moller organ company refurbished the organ.

In 1997 the

  • Regarding the Cathedral's pipe organ:
    • The Organ Historical Society Database
    • The Wicks Organ Web Site
    • The Wicks Organ Page on the Cathedral's organ
    • The Cathedral's Web Page on the organ
  • Official Cathedral Site
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis Official Site
  • Symmetry at the Cathedral
  • Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis: Photo Gallery by The Catholic Photographer

External links

  • Faherty, William Barnaby; Abeln, Mark Scott (2009). Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History. St. Louis, Mo: Reedy Press. p. 176.  


  1. ^ a b Herbermann, p. 664
  2. ^ "St. Louis Cathedral - City Landmark #57". City of St. Louis Cultural Resources Office. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  3. ^, "Basilicas in the United States"
  4. ^ a b c d Federal Writers' Project, p. 321
  5. ^ a b c "Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis". Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  6. ^ "25 Things to Do in St. Louis". Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d Stevens, p. 1002
  8. ^ Scharf, p. 1653
  9. ^ Mosaic
  10. ^ "New sculpture to feature theme of racial harmony". Archdiocese of St. Louis. 1999-05-21. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 


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