St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan. It is the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic Cathedral in the United States and has been recognized throughout its history as a center of Catholic life in this country.
The Cathedral was begun in 1858 by Archbishop John Hughes to replace the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is used today as a parish church in New York. The cornerstone was laid in August of that year, and, after a suspension of work during the years of Civil War, John Cardinal McCloskey, the first American Cardinal, resumed work in 1865, opening the doors in May, 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. His successor, Cardinal Farley, completed work on the Lady Chapel addition. Cardinal Hayes completed an extensive renovation of the interior between 1927 and 1931 when the great organ was installed and the sanctuary was enlarged.
The exterior was restored during the episcopate of Cardinal Spellman who saw to the completion of the stained glass windows as well as a new main altar and baldachin. Both interior and exterior were completely restored to their original beauty during the years when Cardinal Cooke was Archbishop. New shrines in honor of the American saints were brought to the Cathedral during the same years.
During the years of John Cardinal O’Connor’s episcopate, extensive renovations have been made to maintain the structural integrity of the building, including replacement of much of the roof, exterior steps, replastering of the walls in the transepts, repair of stained glass and refinishing the transept doors.
A liturgical altar has been placed in the sanctuary and the baptistry has been relocated. A new amplification system and modern lighting were installed in 1988 and 1989, and a bas-relief sculpture dedicated to Saint Frances Cabrini was mounted on the Cathedral wall shortly before Christmas in 1989.
Some Facts About Saint Patrick’s Catherdral
The Windows were made by renowned artists in Chartres, France; Birmingham, England and Boston Massachusetts. The great rose window is acknowledged to be the finest work designed by Charles Connick, the 20th century genius in stained glass window design..
The Cathedral seats about 2,200 people.
The exterior length is about 405 feet; the width is 274 feet.
The spires rise 330 feet from street level.
The architect was James Renwick, an American. The Lady Chapel was designed by another American, Charles Mathews.
The St. Michael and St. Louis altar was designed by Tiffany and Company. The St. Elizabeth altar was designed by Paolo Medici of Rome.
The Archbishops of New York are buried in a crypt under the high altar. Their honorary hats, called galeros, hang from the ceiling over their tombs.
The Stations of the Cross are works of art which won first prize at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
The Pieta is three times larger than the Pieta in St. Peter’s, Rome.
The Cathedral has three organs.
The baldachin over the main altar is solid bronze.
Each year over 3 million people visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral