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Traditionally, churches attained the title of basilica because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance, or significance as centers of worship.

There are Two Classes of Basilicas: Major and Minor. There are only four major basilicas in the world, all in Rome. The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption is one of 85 minor basilicas in the United States.

Pope Pius XII elevated St. Mary’s Cathedral to the rank of minor basilica on December 8, 1953 during a Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend William T. Mulloy, D.D.


First churches Edit

Christianity was established in Rouen in about 260 by Saint Mellonius, who became the first bishop. The first church is believed to have been under or close to the present cathedral. In 395 a large basilica, with three naves, was built at the same site. In 755 the archbishop Rémy, the son of the Frankish statesman and military leader Charles Martel, established the first Chapter of the cathedral, and constructed several courtyards and buildings around the church, including a palace for the archbishop. [6]

The cathedral was enlarged by St. Ouen in 650, and visited by Charlemagne in 769. However, beginning in 841, a series of Viking raids seriously damaged the cathedral complex. [7] [8]

The Viking leader Rollo became first Duke of the Duchy of Normandy and was baptised in the Carolingian cathedral in 915 and buried there in 932. His grandson, Richard I of Normandy, further enlarged it in 950. [9]

In the 1020s, the archbishop Robert began to rebuild the church in the Romanesque style, beginning with a new choir, crypt and ambulatory, and then a new transept. The Romanesque cathedral was consecrated by the archbishop Maurille on October 1, 1063, in the presence of William the Conqueror, not long before his conquest of England. [9]

The Gothic cathedral Edit

The project for a cathedral in the new Gothic style was first launched by the Archbishop of Rouen, Hugues of Amiens, who had attended the consecration in 1144 of the Basilica of Saint Denis, the first Gothic structure, with its emphasis upon filling the interior with light. In 1145, he began constructing a tower, now called the Tower Saint-Roman, in the new Gothic style. [9]

A complete reconstruction of the cathedral was begun by his successor, Gautier the Magnificent. in 1185 he demolished the Romanesque nave and began building the western end of the sanctuary. He had completed the west front and first traverses when the work was interrupted by a major fire on Easter eve in 1200, which destroyed a large part of the town and seriously damaged the unfinished church and its furnishings. Gautier quickly repaired the damage and resumed the work, which was directed by his master mason, Jean d'Andeli. The nave was sufficiently complete by 1204 for King Philip II of France to be received there to celebrate the annexation of Normandy to the Kingdom of France. By 1207 the main altar was in place in the choir. [9]

The first architectural addition to the new church was a series of small chapels between the buttresses on the north and south sides of the nave, requested by the city's prominent religious brotherhoods and corporations. In 1280 the surrounding spaces and buildings were modified to permit the construction of portals on the north and south transepts. The next addition was a response to the growing role of the Virgin Mary in church doctrine the small axial chapel at the east end of the apse was replaced by a much larger chapel dedicated to her, begun in 1302. The west front was also given new decoration between 1370 and 1450. [10]

Beginning in 1468 a highly ornamental new top, made of iron and covered with stone tiles, in the late Gothic Flamboyant style was added to the tower of Saint-Romaine. [10] [11]

16th century – The Transition and the Renaissance Edit

Cardinal-Archbishop Georges d'Amboise (1494 to 1510) had a major influence on the church architecture. He incorporated into the Gothic design new Renaissance features, as he had done in his own residence, the Chateau de Gaillon, The first major project of the period was a new tower to match the old Saint-Romaine tower, built almost three centuries earlier. Work on the tower had begun in 1488, under master builder Guillaume Pontifs, but under Cardinal d'Amboise in 1496 the project was taken over 1496 by Jacques Le Roux, who had a more ambitious plan with Renaissance touches. The Pope authorised Cardinal d'Amboise to grant dispensations to consume milk and butter during Lent, in exchange for contributions to the tower. The new tower soon took on the nickname of the Butter Tower, though the money collected paid only a portion of the cost. [10] [12]

Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral, German Kölner Dom, Roman Catholic cathedral church, located in the city of Cologne, Germany. It is the largest Gothic church in northern Europe and features immense twin towers that stand 515 feet (157 metres) tall. The cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

The site of Cologne Cathedral has been occupied by Christian churches since about the 4th century. An older cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1248, and immediately thereafter work began on the present cathedral, which was designed in the Gothic style in emulation of French church architecture. The choir was consecrated in 1322, but construction continued until 1560 (or only until 1520, according to some authorities). The project then stalled for centuries, with a large wooden crane left standing some 184 feet (56 metres) above the ground, at the top of the south tower. During the 1790s, troops of the French Revolution occupied Cologne and used the cathedral as a stable and a hay barn. Restoration work began in the 1820s, spurred on by Sulpiz Boisserée, a German proponent of the Gothic Revival movement. In 1842 a new cornerstone was laid by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, and work to complete the cathedral resumed in earnest. The architects Ernst Friedrich Zwirner and Richard Voigtel carried out the enterprise, guided by architectural drawings made in about 1300. Construction finally ended in 1880.

At the time of its completion, Cologne Cathedral was believed to be the world’s tallest structure, a distinction it held until 1884, when the Washington Monument was finished. It continued to be the world’s tallest building until it was exceeded by Ulm (Germany) Cathedral in 1890. Cologne Cathedral was badly damaged by Allied air raids in 1944, but the medieval windows had been removed beforehand. By 1948 the choir had been restored and was again in regular use, as was the rest of the interior by 1956. In the late 20th century work began to repair the effects of acid rain on the stonework.

The art treasures of Cologne Cathedral are many and varied. Near the high altar is the massive gold Shrine of the Three Kings, containing what are said to be relics of the Magi who attended the infant Jesus. The shrine, a masterpiece of medieval goldwork, was begun by the noted goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun in 1182, completed in about 1220, and originally installed in the predecessor cathedral. The altarpiece in the Lady Chapel (on the south wall of the choir) is a triptych entitled The Adoration of the Magi (c. 1445), which was made by Stefan Lochner, one of the outstanding painters of the Cologne school. The cathedral’s oldest stained-glass windows were crafted in the 13th century. More modern in style is an immense stained-glass window by the Cologne-based artist Gerhard Richter, completed in 2007 as a permanent replacement for 19th-century glass that was destroyed in World War II. Richter’s window consists of more than 11,000 square panes in 72 solid colours, arrayed seemingly at random within the many-mullioned window.

The dream of a National Cathedral is as old as the nation itself, a "great church for national purposes."

Where History Comes Alive

George Washington and Maj. Pierre L’Enfant cast the original vision for a unifying “great church for national purposes” in the early days of the republic, though it was another century before the first stones were set. As a house of prayer for all people, the Cathedral’s walls are strong enough to contain the emotions of the country at times of great joy and great sorrow.

The dream of a national cathedral dates to the earliest days of the United States, when President George Washington and architect Pierre L’Enfant imagined a “great church for national purposes.”

Congress granted a charter (incorporation papers) to the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation of the District of Columbia, allowing it to establish a cathedral and institutions of higher learning. The charter was signed by President Benjamin Harrison and is preserved in the National Archives.

The Right Rev. Henry Yates Satterlee, the first Episcopal bishop of Washington, identified land atop Mount Saint Alban for the Cathedral—the most commanding spot in the entire Washington area.

President William McKinley attends the dedication of the Peace Cross on the Cathedral Close to mark the end of the Spanish-American War.

Workmen laid the foundation stone on Washington’s longest-running construction project on September 29 as President Theodore Roosevelt and the Bishop of London spoke to a crowd of 10,000. The stone itself came from a field near Bethlehem and was set into a larger piece of American granite. On it was the inscription: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Bethlehem Chapel opens for services.

President Woodrow Wilson attends official thanksgiving service for the end of the First World War.

President Warren G. Harding leads all 34 delegates to the Washington Conference on Limitation of Armaments to a special Cathedral service through the “Way of Peace” entrance by Bethlehem Chapel.

President Calvin Coolidge opens the General Convention of the Episcopal Church at the Cathedral.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attends a National Prayer Service for his second inauguration.

President Woodrow Wilson’s tomb in the Cathedral is dedicated.

War Memorial Chapel is dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II.

The Cathedral’s 300-foot Gloria in Excelsis central tower is dedicated.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preaches his last Sunday sermon from the Canterbury Pulpit.

World leaders gather for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s State Funeral.

The Cathedral’s nave and west rose window were completed and dedicated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and President Gerald Ford.

The Pilgrim Observation Gallery was completed and opened to the public.

The Cathedral hosted the national prayer service for President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration.

The Cathedral hosted the national prayer service for President George H.W. Bush’s inauguration.

The completion of the west towers marked the end of 83 years of construction, as President George H.W. Bush wishes “God speed the work completed this noon and the new work yet to begin.”

The Cathedral hosts a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Cathedral hosted the state funeral of President Ronald Reagan.

The Cathedral hosted the state funeral of President Gerald Ford.

The Cathedral hosted the national prayer service for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

A rare 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the east coast and caused an estimated $32 million in damage to the Cathedral.

The Cathedral hosted a national prayer service for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

The Cathedral hosted a national prayer service for President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The Cathedral hosted an official funeral for Senator John McCain.

The ashes of Matthew Shepard were interred in the Cathedral crypt, 20 years after his murder in an anti-gay hate crime that electrified the gay rights movement.

The Cathedral hosted a State Funeral for President George H.W. Bush.

The COVID-19 pandemic upended life at the Cathedral, forcing its doors to close on March 12 (for an indefinite period of time) and leading to staff cutbacks and budget reductions.

The Cathedral hosted a virtual Inaugural Prayer Service for Joe Biden's inauguration President Biden and Vice President Harris watched from the White House.

A carved figure of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel is added to the Cathedral's Human Rights Porch, joining humanitarian Mother Teresa, civil rights icon Rosa Parks and others who devoted their lives in service of others.


The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
is a magnificent structure, a grand monument to the faith of thousands – past and present – and a wonderful house of prayer for all peoples. But the road to today was a long one negotiated only through the arduous sacrifice of generations of the Faithful.

On May 3, 1821, Bishop John England, the first Bishop of Charleston, purchased property on the northeast corner of Broad and Friend (now Legare) as a site for the cathedral. A “dwelling house” was on the lot, and on December 30, 1821, Bishop England blessed it as a temporary chapel for the congregation, and it was named in honor of St. Finbar, the patron saint of Cork, Ireland.

The cornerstone was laid for the first cathedral at the present site on July 30, 1850. Called the Cathedral of St. John & St. Finbar, it was consecrated on April 6, 1854. This antebellum cathedral was able to seat 1,200 people and cost $103,000 to build.

On December 11, 1861, a fire broke out in a factory on Hasell Street, destroying much of Charleston including the cathedral. Everything was lost. Fund-raising for a new cathedral continued for the next 45 years, and finally the cornerstone for the present Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was laid in January of 1890. The Gothic architecture calls for a spire, but due to lack of funds, it was never built. The lower church includes a crypt where Bishop England (with his sister, Joanna) and four other Charleston bishops are buried.

The present church was built on the foundation of the 1854 cathedral. The structure is of Connecticut tool-chiseled brownstone. Over each entrance are unique stained glass windows including the Papal coat of arms and the seal of the state of South Carolina. The pews are of carved Flemish oak, and the three original altars are of white Vermont marble.

In the nave are 14 large two-light windows, representing the Life of Christ from His Nativity to the Ascension. Above the high altar is a five-light window copied from Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last Supper.” The rose window above it is the Baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist. In the clerestory of the sanctuary are windows honoring the four evangelists.

In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the cathedral in 1957, extensive repairs were made to the building. In the winter of 1966-67. For the 75th anniversary of the cathedral in 1982, renovations were initiated by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler. In 1991, Bishop David B. Thompson commissioned the present permanent altar of celebration. A new bishop’s chair was situated to the left of the altar, and all of the furnishings in the altar area were commissioned during this renovation. The side walls were newly plastered and the entire church was painted in 1995. The color scheme and the gold-leafing highlight the Gothic architecture. A 31-rank French Romantic pipe organ, Bedient Opus22, was purchased from the Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Ky.

Early in the new millennium, a committee was formed to guide an appeal for funds to restore the stained glass and the exterior stone work. Eventually, the project included the addition of the steeple and three bells, to proclaim the presence of God in the community. The Cathedral appeal was called ‘Forward with Faith’.

At the same time, Most Reverend Robert Baker, initiated a diocesan wide appeal named ‘Our Heritage, Our Hope’, which among other things, pledged half the cost of the additions and renovations. Now, the fruits of the generosity of the Catholics of South Carolina, the Cathedral parishioners, and visitors to the Cathedral are witnessed in the magnificent new spire, 103 years later than planned, no doubt, but a superb addition to the Catholic heritage of the state, and Charleston herself.

Thus continues the history of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, the “mother church” of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston.


Construction of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral began in 1075, during the reign of Alfonso VI. It was built under the direction of Bishop Diego Peláez, on the site of an old church dedicated to Saint Santiago, or St James as he is known in English.

Work on the cathedral stopped after the initial stages and didn’t continue until 1100, when architect Master Esteban created three naves in the shape of a Latin cross. Construction carried on throughout the 12th century, and many extensions were added over the years in various architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Plateresque and Neoclassical.


St. Ninian came from Whithorn in Galloway in the 5th century and dedicated a Christian burial ground at Cathures (later Glasgow) in the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

To this spot in the following century came Kentigern, popularly called Mungo. He was born tradition says on the shore in Fife near Culross where the ruins of St. Mungo’s chapel are supposed to mark the spot. At Culross he was brought up by St. Serf and trained for the priesthood.

Mungo left St. Serf and came to Carnock in Stirlingshire from where he accompanied the corpse of a holy man, Fergus, which was carried on a cart by two untamed oxen. They stopped at St. Ninian’s burial ground in Cathures where Fergus was buried. The Blacader Aisle may mark the site.

Kentigern was chosen by the King, clergy and people to be their bishop, and he founded a monastic community and built a church where, reputedly, St. Columba came to visit him. From here Kentigern travelled to Cumbria, to the Lake District, and as far as St. Asaph in North Wales.

The date of his death is given as 13th January, 603. His tomb is in the Lower Church of the Cathedral where there is a service held every year to commemorate his life.


There is little known about the church buildings which stood on the site of the present Cathedral until the early part of the 12th century.

The first stone building was consecrated in about 1136 in the presence of King David I and his Court when John (1117-1147) was Bishop.

Destroyed or severely damaged by fire, this cathedral was succeeded by a larger one consecrated in 1197, during the time of Bishop Jocelyn (1177-1199) to whom we owe the institution of the Glasgow Fair in July, which is still observed as an annual holiday.

In the early 14th century, the Nave was extended and completed. The south-west door and the entrance to the Blacader Aisle and the walls of the nave up to the level of the sills of the windows belong to this period.

The next major rebuilding came later in the 13th century with William de Bondinton (1233-1258) who was responsible for adding the Quire and the Lower Church. The doorways of the sacristy (Upper Chapter House) and of the Lower Chapter House date from the mid-13th century, and the whole church may have been completed before the end of the 13th century.

Most of the Nave above sill level probably dates from after 1330, and the West Window from the later 14th century.

The Pulpitum and the Blacader Aisle were added in the fifteenth century.


After the Reformation a wall was put across the nave to allow the western portion of the nave to be used for worship by a congregation which became know as the Outer High. This congregation worshiped in the nave from 1647 until 1835.

The Lower Church was used by another congregation, the Barony, from 1596-1801, until a new church was built just across from the Cathedral.

When the Lower Church was no longer used for worship, soil was brought in to a depth of about five feet and it became the burial place for members of the Barony Congregation. The visible parts of the pillars were coloured black with white “tears”, the graves were enclosed by railings four feet high, with two narrow passages for access. The Lower Church was cleared before the middle of the 19th century.

The congregation which used the Quire was for a time called the Inner High. The pulpit was placed between pillars of the south aisle and the King’s Seat was on the north aisle. In 1805 a major reconstruction saw the pulpit removed to the east end. Galleries were inserted between the pillars on three sides, and the King’s Seat was removed to the western gallery in front of the Pulpitum or Choir Screen.

This brief history has been taken from “A Walk through Glasgow Cathedral” written by a previous Minister of the Cathedral, the late Very Revd. Dr. W. J. Morris.

Cathedral History

Father Frederic Baraga established the beginnings of Saint Andrew Church when he buil t the first church, St. Mary’s Mission, in 1833 amid Indian cornfields on the west bank of the Grand River.

Two years later, when Father Andreas Viszoczky became the pastor, he found a small chu rch, rectory, and school building that Father Baraga had built. After the Indian population dispersed , Father Viszosky built a new church on Monroe Avenue, naming the parish for St. Andrew, his patron saint. The church, built from Grand River limestone , was completed in 1850 and was the largest building in town.

The Monroe Avenue church was soon too small for its growing po pulation, so beginning in 1875, a new church was built at its present location on Sheldon Boulevard. When Saint Andrew church was completed in 18 76, it was a graceful structure and the pride of the ever-expanding city whi ch grew around it. In 1882, Pope Leo XIII established the new diocese of Grand Rapids. The first bishop, Henry J. Richter of Cincinnati, was named in early 1883. He selected Saint Andrew church as his cathedral and was consecrated in this building on April 22, 1883.

After a disastrous fire in 1901, the cathedral was not only restored but expanded and reconstructed. Hidden above the ceiling that you see today the original massive wooden beams are still charred from that lightning-caused conflagration.

Renovations and Expansions

Another major reconstruction and expansion took place in 1961-1963, when the Saint Ambrose Chapel wing was constructed . This renovation also featured the closing off of Maple Street from Sheldon to Division, providing a surrounding green space.

In 1979-1980, another major renovation occurred, where the sanctuary was expanded, a vesting and gathering area crea ted, and the interior was decorated in muted earth-tone colors.

The most recent renova tion occurred in 1997-2000. This is the Cathedral as you see it today, with the baptismal pool, the refurbished stained glass and the bas-relief Stations of the Cross. In 2002 the pipe organ was installed.

Mass on Television and now Online

The Diocese of Grand Rapids was perhaps the first in the nation to televise the Sunday Mass live. In the mid-1960’s, provision was made within the cathedral itself for a televisio n studio. Recently the studio and cameras were updated for digital broadcast and the Sunday 10:00am Mass can be seen weekly on WXMI FOX 17. In 2011 the Cathedral began to live stream the Sunday Mass on the diocese website.

The Piazza and Baraga Way

In 2009, the front entrance of the Cathedral was redone and the current Piazza Secchia was laid. The piazza is patterned after the Michelangelo-designed piazza on the Capitoline Hill in Rome.

In 2010 the decision was made to take down St. Andrew's Elementary School. In its place the Diocese of Grand Rapids created a new Green space dedicated to the early Catholic Pioneer Bishop Baraga. The view of the Cathedral is now opened from Jefferson to Sheldon.

Today, the Cathedral of Saint Andrew proudly stands in the central city as a place of acceptance and hospitality to its neighbors and to the community at large.

Watch the video: ΑΓΓΕΛΟΣ ΠΡΩΤΟΣΤΑΤΗΣ, Καθεδρικός Ναός Αθηνών, 23 Μαΐου 2018 (August 2022).