United States


New York

Saint Patrick's Cathedral



St_Patricks_Cathedral

 


Summary

Built of brick and clad in marble, St Patrick’s Cathedral was completed in 1878 to become a prominent New York City landmark.  It is the largest neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America and can hold 3,000 people.  The cathedral has undergone a number of renovations over the years since its completion.  It contains some beautiful artefacts, including a Pietà, sculpted by William Ordway Partridge, which is three times larger than Michelangelo's Pietà found in St Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, Rome.
 


St. Patrick's Cathedral is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue and occupies a whole block between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.  The largest Neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America, it spans 174 feet (53.0 meters) wide and 332 feet (101.2 meters) long.  With the spires rising 330 feet (100.6 meters) from street level, it was, when first constructed, the tallest structure in New York City and the second highest in the United States.

Built of brick clad in marble, the cathedral can hold 3,000 people.  As well as being the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the cathedral also serves as a parish church.
  
The cathedral stands on land purchased in 1810 by the Jesuit community on which to build a school, although this closed in 1814 and the land was sold to the diocese.  The land was designated as a future cemetery, although at that time an orphanage was located there, which was maintained by the diocese into the late 19th century. 

In 1853, Archbishop John Joseph Hughes announced the intention to construct a new cathedral to replace the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral situated in Lower Manhattan.  The new cathedral was to be in the Gothic Revival style and was designed by James Renwick, Jr.  On August 15, 1858, the cornerstone was laid just south of the diocese's orphanage.  The work ceased during the Civil War (1861 to 1865) to resume in 1865.  The cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated on May 25, 1879, although the spires were not added until 1888.

Additional work was carried out with the construction of the Lady Chapel between 1901 and 1906, and the Chapel’s stained-glass windows were added between 1912 and 1930.  During the period between 1927 and 1931, the cathedral underwent a programme of renovation which included enlarging the sanctuary and the installation of the great organ.

The Cathedral has two pipe organs. The Gallery Organ is located in the Choir Gallery below the Rose Window near the South Transept.  The Chancel Organ is in the North Ambulatory.  The first Gallery Organ was installed in 1879, and the following year the second organ was installed in the Chancel.

On January 30, 1928, a new Chancel Organ was dedicated.  Encased in a carved oak screen ornamented with Gothic elements of design and symbolism, its 1,480 pipes are located on the opposite side of the ambulatory.  This new organ required that the Gallery be extended to accommodate it, which resulted in the construction of a reinforced concrete extension.

The new Gallery Organ took three years to build and was dedicated on February 11, 1930.  Costing $250,000, it has one of the country’s most beautiful wood facades.  Adorned with angels and Latin inscriptions, it was designed by Robert J. Reiley and contains 7,855 pipes ranging in length from one-half inch to thirty-two feet.

Both organs underwent tonal changes in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, additional renovations were carried out. 

The cathedral contains several altars of interest.  The main altar area underwent renovation during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  At this time, the High Altar was replaced, and a bronze baldachin and rose stained-glass window were added.  

The main entrance to the cathedral is through two bronze doors inaugurated in 1949.  Each one is 16.5 x 5.5 feet and weighs 4 tons (657 stones).  The doors are decorated with relief sculptures representing six people, including three women, who distinguished themselves for the significance of their work to the cathedral, and their missionary work and assistance to migrants.   These doors underwent a restoration project between 2000 and 2013.

The interior of the cathedral contains several exhibits.  Of special interest is the Pietà, sculpted by William Ordway Partridge, which is three times larger than Michelangelo's Pietà in St Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, Rome.  The cathedral's Stations of the Cross won an artistry prize at Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.  At the rear of the cathedral is the bust of Pope John Paul II commemorating his visit to the city in 1979.  

The cathedral itself underwent a restoration programme from 2012 to 2015 to clean the exterior marble, repair the flooring, steps and stained-glass windows, and paint the ceiling.  This was finished just prior to the visit of Pope Francis on 24th September 2015.



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The Nave Main Altar


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                     Pulpit                    Stained Glass Windows


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Pieta                        Main Door


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Stations of the Cross


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Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

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