Friday, November 6, 2015

Cathedral of St. Paul - Minnesota

The Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota (the "Cathedral"), is the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis along with the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis (the "Basilica"). As mentioned in my post on the Basilica, Louis Masqueray, who was the chief architect of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, designed both buildings in the Beaux-Arts style and they were built about the same time. The Cathedral has design elements of the French churches Sacre-Coeur in Paris and Perigueux Cathedral in Perigueux.
It almost appears to be built in the French countryside. My mind is boggled that they've managed to keep it from being surrounded by other structures. I almost expected chickens and pigs to be running around. 
View from another field on another side. 
Construction began in 1906 on Cathedral Hill, not too far from the state Capitol, and it opened in 1915. Unlike the Basilica, it is surrounded on several sides by vacant lots which give an unobstructed view and a sense of newness, or of being in a developing area. The exterior walls are of Rockville granite from St. Cloud, MN (the same granite as the foundation of the Basilica) and the interior walls are of travertine, a form of limestone, from Mankato, MN.
Ahh, finally some landscaping and some evidence that it is located in more than a cow pasture (although I quite liked the cow-pasture feel). 
A corner shot. 
I liked this angelic Mercury look-alike on a sister-structure. Her robes look like she's in a stiff breeze. 
I particularly like the active figures cavorting on the outside.
Jesus, quite Moses-like, has arms outstretched and commands the attention of his disciples. It's too bad we can't get closer to look at the details. 
I love all the busy-ness: The Corinthian capitals, the side-saddle angels, the toothed framing, the circular windows around the outside of the rose window. It looks like the top of a wedding cake. 
Tempestuous Peter appears to hold his keys.
Namesake Paul, sword-in-hand, balding head with flowing beard, an ancient version of the modern version of the aging Herman's Hermits. 
There are statues of the four evangelists in the corners of the main pier and St. Paul is honored by a bronze baldachin, or canopy. The Cathedral was designated as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul in 2009 by the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the U.S. and the Vatican (the only one in North America) but there did not seem to be any over-arching Pauline theme.
The altar and canopy above it viewed from near the front. The place is massive. 
A closer view of the altar and canopy also give a peak into the dome. The yellowish dome just did not seem to fit. Given the activity on the outer walls, I would love to see some of the figures crawling around inside the dome like in the Duomo in Florence. 
We get closer to the altar. I like the earth-tone colors in the canopy. Beautiful black marble pillars, copperish colors above, accentuated by the blues in the windows above it. Beautiful. Those are the colors I would love to see in the dome. 
This canopy celebrates Paul, but I don't see it. It doesn't compare to the canopy with the haunting Mary standing on top that is in the Basilica. 
From a side, looking back toward the front doors. Massive open space - I do love that. I would love to hear a powerful organ blasting in there. 
Namesake Paul, holding his sword. 
But Paul is dwarfed by the evangelists. Here is Luke. Love the hair, the Hulk Hogan mustache - perhaps the reformed wrestler-governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, was the model. The evangelist sculptures were huge and awesome. 
Speaking of hair, John is downright Mozartian. Love the hands. 
Matthew is well-coiffed. I love the little guardian angel sitting on his foot. 
Mark reminds me of King Lear. The huge evangelists were one of my favorite elements of the Cathedral.
One of the rose windows.
One of the more unusual stained glass renditions I've seen. 
The Cathedral has the best Stations of the Cross symbols I've seen. I loved them. They were close-ups of the people involved, mostly Jesus, apparently in copper or some other metal, and just beautifully and tastefully done. This last one is my favorite, Jesus in the tomb with the three crosses in the background. 
Jesus with Pilate. 
Jesus with Veronica.
Jesus nailed to the cross.
There are six chapels dedicated to patron saints of the European ethnic groups that settled in the St. Paul vicinity. For the Italians, St. Anthony; for the French Canadians, St. John the Baptist; for the Irish, St. Patrick; for the Germans, St. Boniface; for the Slavs, Saints Cyril and Methodius; and for the missionaries, St. Therese of Lisieux.
I love Mary with her mother, Anna, particularly Mary as a young girl. 
Mary's father, Joachim, gets no girl time. He's across the chapel in another niche. 
I believe this is Mary grown up and holding her own child now. I love the ceiling, almost looks like an all-seeing eye looking down from above.  
A closer view of Mary and Jesus.
The Cathedral's website has a very cool 360 degree walking tour which give fantastic views of the inside of the Cathedral.
I don't know who these angels are, but they've got nice wings.
Scrunched up mouth as she pours.
A handsome angel casually holds a snake while he looks wistfully in a mirror. 
I loved the Cathedral, but it did not grab me like the Basilica. The Cathedral was statuary. The Basilica was stained glass. Incredible to have two such large and beautiful churches in such close proximity to each other. 


  1. I enjoyed some of your comparisons: Paul to Herman's Hermits, Luke to Jesse Ventura, and Mark to King Lear. I really loved the statues in this cathedral.

  2. Beautiful cathedral--I especially like the exterior.