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History

Welcome to Saint Patrick Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso!

El Paso CathedralLocated downtown, the Cathedral is a work of art and it is one of El Paso’s historical landmarks. The construction began when the first stone was laid and blessed by Father Edward Barry S.J. and Father Francis Roy, S.J. on July 31, 1914, the feast day of Saint Ignatius Loyola and was dedicated Thanksgiving Day November 29,1917.

The St. Louis architectural firm of Barnett, Haynes, and Barnett designed the church. The contractors were Kroeger, Mayfield and Shaw of El Paso. The style is a blend of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture.

Together, the clergy and townspeople built the Cathedral as a beautiful expression of Faith that provided an uplifting environment for Catholic worship and an inspiring place for private prayer.

Whether you have come to pray or simply to view the beauty, we hope you are nourished in spirit and will return again to the Cathedral of Saint Patrick.

On April 3, 1914, the Vatican under Pope Pius X elevated and es tab li shed El Paso as a Diocese. In June, 1915, after the death of Pope Pius X, Pope Benedict XV appointed Rev. Anthony J. Schuler, S.J., as the first Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso. Bishop Schuler announced that upon his arrival in El Paso he planned to take the new St. Patrick Church as his Cathedral.

Naming The Cathedral

The goal was to raise $150,000 to begin the church building. Fr. Barry had raised $12,000, but needed an equal amount to begin construction. He distributed hundreds of cards with a picture of the proposed new church with an announcement that anyone who donates the sum of $10,000 will have the privilege of selecting the saint in whose honor the new church will be named.

In December of 191 3, Mrs. Delia Lane presented Fr. Barry with a check for $10,000! Her innate modesty would not allow her to select a name. She gave the privilege to the “Daughters of Erin” (of which she was a member) who named it, by unanimous consent, after Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland.

Marble Used in Altars

A short time later her brother, Michael Connerton, donated $10,000 for the main altar, which is a smaller replica of the altar in the cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri. The two side altars cost $5,000 each.

The construction of the Baldachino (main altar) is a canopy-like structure that projects out from a wall and is supported by columns and is used specifically over an altar or seat of honor. The supporting columns on either side of the main al tar are 15 ’12 inches thick and 8 feet 8 inches tall. Six different marbles were used: Numidian red, Brown Sienna, Champville yellow, Blanco P. (white), black, gold, and Sylvan green. The mosaic is Venetian red and gold. The height of the main altar is twenty-seven feet. The altar railing is Numidian red, Sylvan green and Champville yellow.

Electrical Pipe Organ

The Cathedral’s original pipe organ was made by George Gilgen & Sons of St. Louis at a cost of $7,000. It had 2500 pipes and was electrical in its mechanism, and had a marvelous tone.

Stained Glass Windows

In 1929 the original glass windows were replaced with the existing stained-glass windows. The twenty West to East stained glass windows show the scenes of Jesus Christ from His birth to resurrection. The windows were custom made by the Emil Frei Art Glass Co. of St. Louis, Missouri and Munich, Germany. The company was founded in 1898 by Bavarian-born Emil Frei, Sr. The Company is still designing beautiful works of art for churches from New York to San Francisco. Their work is equal in every respect to any of the best windows imported from Europe. The glass used was mouth-blown antique glass from Germany. Various parishioners donated the windows with an inscription to a member of their family or friend.

Renovation

The Cathedral has undergone minor renovation to maintain the structural integrity of the building over the years. On May 17, 1988, during a thunderstorm, a lightning bolt struck the steeple and set it on fire causing considerable damage. The damaged steeple was removed and a new one erected. The organ was completely destroyed due to extensive water damage as well as part of the interior of the church. This forced the decision to move ahead on the plans to renovate the Cathedral, bringing it in accordance with the requirements of the Second Vatican Council.

The total cost of the renovation was $660,000. This included enlarging the sanctuary by removing a portion of the communion rail. The Bishop’s and priest’s chairs were placed facing the congregation. A new permanent altar and ambo were installed incorporating a section of the removed altar rail. An entrance to accommodate the handicapped, a new sound system, and a small gathering plaza at the top of the stairs leading into the Cathedral were the main focal points of the renovation.

The large Crucifix mounted in the choir loft was a gift given in commemoration of Bishop Anthony J. Schuler, S.J. on the occasion of his fiftieth jubilee upon entering the Society of Jesus. It was originally placed in the sanctuary on Good Friday 1936 where it remained until it was moved to its present location during the renovation.

The beautiful painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe located in a niche on the west side of the church is over 300 years old. It is from Zacatecas, Mexico, given by an anonymous donor to the Cathedral in 2002.

Chapel

On the left side of the main altar is a small chapel. Initially it was used for early services, private masses and official meetings. During past years the chapel was named St. Rita’s Chapel and later, Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel. Vatican II stated that the Tabernacle should specifically be in a space designed for individual devotion. The chapel was then selected as the “Chapel of Repose” where a new tabernacle was placed. Stained-glass windows were donated by individual parishioners and installed in 2002. Griffin Studios of Ruidoso are designers of the windows depicting the seven Sacraments.

Saint Patrick School

The Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross opened St. Patrick School in the fall of 1923 with 220 students in grades 1 through 7. It was located in the Community Center at 1309 North Stanton, the existing site of Cathedral High School. It was moved to the present location 1111 N. Stanton in 1938. The Sisters of Loretto operated the school until 1976 when the first lay principal was appointed. Currently the school has pre K through eighth grade and has an enrollment of approximately 450 students.

San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado

The Cathedral has the distinct privilege of having a canonized saint who was ordained in the church on January 25, 1918. He was martyred in the city of Santa Isabel, Chihuahua, Mexico on February 11, 1937 at the age of forty-two. He is interred in the Dolores cemetery, Chihuahua. Pope John Paul II canonized Father Maldonado in 2002.