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St. Patrick's Cathedral

New York City

The largest decorated Gothic-style Catholic Cathedral in the United States, St. Patrick's is also the seat of the Archbishop of New York. The Cathedral and grounds are bounded by Fifth and Madison Avenues and Fiftieth and Fifty-First Streets (across the street from Rockefeller Center).

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Brief History

The Cathedral was begun in 1858 by Archbishop John Hughes to replace the original St. Patrick's Cathedral (which is still located on Mulberry Street in Lower Manhattan). The cornerstone was laid on August 15, 1858; the Cathedral was dedicated on May 25, 1879.

Archbishop Michael Corrigan added the towers on the west front in 1888, and began work on the east addition, including the Lady Chapel, in 1901.

Cardinal Hayes completed an extensive renovation of the interior between 1927 and 1931, which also included installation of the Kilgen Organs.

interior of St. Patrick's Cathedral, showing the main altar
interior of St. Patrick's Cathedral, showing the main altar

Restoration of the exterior was undertaken during the episcopate of Cardinal Spellman, who also oversaw completion of the stained glass windows and a new main altar and baldachin.

New shrines in honor of the American saints were brought to the Cathedral during the years when Cardinal Cooke was Archbishop.

Extensive renovations to maintain the structural integrity of the building were undertaken during the years of John Cardinal O'Connor's episcopate.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral was designed by James Renwick, Jr. The Lady Chapel was designed by Charles T. Mathews.

Built of white marble quarried in New York and Massachusetts.

Exterior is 400 feet long and 174 feet wide.

Seats approximately 2,200.

Spires rise 330 feet from street level.

Windows were made by artists in Chartres, Birmingham, and Boston. The Great Rose Window (shown at right) is one of Charles Connick's major works.

detail of the Cathedral's facade
detail of the Cathedral's facade

Other Information

The Chancel Organ was made by the St. Louis firm of George Kilgen & Son, and installed in 1928. It has 3,920 pipes. The Grand Gallery Organ, by the same company, was installed in 1930, and has 5,918 pipes. The two organs can be played in combination action from either of two five-manual consoles which together have a total of 177 stops.

Famous people whose funerals were held at St. Patrick's include New York Yankee greats Babe Ruth and Billy Martin, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, and U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

For more information see the official St. Patrick's Cathedral website, at www.saintpatrickscathedral.org.

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The Robinson Library > Religion and Mythology > Christian Denominations > Catholic Church > Churches, Cathedrals, Abbeys, Etc.

This page was last updated on June 07, 2017.