Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis history
This cathedral is also not as old as one might think. The planning for a new cathedral which would replace the old one, situated next to the Gateway Arch, began in late 19th century. During this time, a special fund and a formal organization promoting the new cathedral was created. The construction itself started later, when the foundation stone was placed in 1908.
By 1914, enough of the building was completed for a dedication ceremony, yet the full consecration did not take place until June 29th, 1926. The consecration gathered all of St. Louis parish churches, 59 archbishops and priests and more than 100.000 people on Lindell Boulevard.
However, even after the consecration, the cathedral wasn’t 100 percent finished until 1988 when the interior mosaic was completed. The cathedral is dedicated to the Victorious Christ and the French King Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis.
The latter has given name to, not only the cathedral, but also the city of St Louis itself. The Cathedral was designated a basilica in 1997, when Pope John Paul II made a historic visit to St. Louis.
Why visit the Cathedral Basilica of
St. Louis ?
When looking at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, it is almost as if one were standing next to one of the many old cathedrals in Europe. However unlike the typical European Gothic cathedrals, this cathedral is more of a Romanesque and byzantine style, with its two towers and three large domes. Today, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is one of St. Louis landmarks and a true architectural masterpiece.
While the outside of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis certainly is impressive, it is most famous for its beautiful inside. The inside of the cathedral holds one of the largest mosaics in the world, containing more then 41 million pieces.
The work is so detailed that it from afar more looks like paintings than mosaics. When looking at the huge 7.700 m2 mosaic, its easy to understand why it took 76 years and a dozen of artisans to finish it.
The mosaic in the entrance area depicts the life of the French king Saint Louis, the rear dome includes mosaics of significant archdiocesan events while the main dome and sanctuary depict biblical scenes from both the Old Testament and New Testament.
The cathedral also houses a museum in the basement. The museum is dedicated to the mosaic and some of the other artifacts found within the cathedral, for example the original organ. The basement also holds a crypt, where former spiritual leaders are buried.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
In the left transept stands small shrine, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart is a symbol for the love Jesus has for all people. The focus of the shrine is a mosaic produced by the esteemed Mosaic Studio located in the Vatican. The mosaic is based upon an oil painting which depicts Jesus and his scared heart.
An unorthodox statue
There is a statue located on the west side of the entrance, known as the Angel of Harmony. This 14 foot high statue was raised in 1999 in memory of Daniel Schlafly. He was a Catholic layman who was dedicated to the cause of racial justice and peace.
This unorthodox statue depicts 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 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Cathedral Basilica location
The Cathedral Basilica of St Louis is located in central United States, in St Louis, Missouri. The basilica is situated on Lindell Boulevard, close to the Forest Park, in the heart of St Louis. For the exact location of St Louis Basilica, check out the location map to the right!
The basilica facade. Chris Yunker.
The green dome of the basilica. Matthew Black.
The lush basilica surroundings. Matthew Black.
Parts of the grand mosaic. HAM guy.
Detail of the mosaic. (GFDL) Daniel Schwen.
The Angel of Harmony. mastahanky.
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our US map.