St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the Archdiocese of New York’s Mother Church and its Archbishop’s Seat. Built up by large and small donations, the ascendancy of religious freedom in the Modern World remains emblematic. As such, this international landmark is a beacon of hope for those who share the Catholic faith and a source of inspiration for the more than five million visitors of every religious denomination that is welcomed here every year.
In times of peace and plenty and war and sorrow, the Cathedral was a wellspring of hope and solace. It has welcomed countless waves of people seeking equality in a city and nation of immigrants. The Cathedral of St. Patrick anchors all of us to such basic human values as compassion, loyalty, dignity, courage and justice. Although there has been continual change in the surrounding urban climate, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has remained steady, overlooking Fifth Avenue since its dedication in 1879.
Every single generation builds a cathedral. The vibrancy of its windows, the elegance of its music and the intent of its charitable outreach call us to respond to our shared humanity – one in God’s image and likeness, rescued by His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Church’s family. The heart of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the faith, devotion and kindness of good people who put the love of Christ into the world and encourage a dialogue between the generations.
The tale of the great cathedral in New York reflects the tale of the city itself. Built to affirm the ascension of religious freedom and equality, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in the spirit of democracy, paid for not only by the donations of thousands of impoverished immigrants, but also by the generosity of 103 influential people who pledged $1,000 each. St. Patrick’s Cathedral confirms the theory that no cathedral is built by any generation. It is, rather, a sort of ongoing dialogue that connects past, present and future generations.
In 1858 the foundation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was laid, and in 1879 the doors swept open. This was when Archbishop John Hughes revealed his inspired vision to create the “new” St. Patrick’s Cathedral more than 160 years ago.
In a ceremony at the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Hughes proposed ‘for the glory of Almighty God, for the honor of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin, for the exaltation of the Holy Mother Church, for the dignity of our ancient and majestic Catholic name, to erect a Cathedral in New York City worthy of our the numbers, intellect and prosperity as a religious group.
Ridiculed as “Hughes ‘folly,” as the planned near-wilderness site was deemed too far outside the city, Archbishop Hughes nevertheless persisted in his audacious vision of building the most magnificent Gothic Cathedral in the New World in what he felt would one day be “the center of the city.” Neither the chaos of the Civil War nor the ensuing shortage of manpower or resources would ruin the city’s heritage.