Cathedral of Salt Lake City prepares to celebrate centenary with ‘Cathedral Week’

Cathedral of Salt Lake City prepares to celebrate centenary with ‘Cathedral Week’

The Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City
The Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City


Salt Lake City’s Cathedral of the Madeleine is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary with an upcoming “Cathedral Week” of Masses, celebrations, lectures and musical performances. Cardinal William J. Levada will be among the many participants in the event.

Franciscan missionaries first visited the land that would become Utah in 1776, according to the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City itself was first settled in 1847 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons, who remain predominant in both the city and the state.

The first permanent Catholic establishment came in 1866 when property was purchased in the city.

A small church on the purchased property served Catholics until the present cathedral was constructed by architects Carl Neuhausen and Bernard Mecklenburg at a different location. The cathedral’s cornerstone was laid on July 2, 1900 and was dedicated to God on August 15, 1909 by James Cardinal Gibbons under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene.

The cathedral combines a Romanesque exterior with a Gothic interior. Its interior was renovated between 1991 and 1992, with the art, stained glass, and woodwork undergoing restoration.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the cathedral’s Madeleine Choir School is one of the few of its kind, with “highly regarded” adult choirs who sing in English and Spanish.

The diocese has declared August 9 to 15, 2009 to be “Cathedral Week.” The week will open on the evening of Sunday August 9 with a Centennial Civic Service in the cathedral, a diocese schedule reports. The service will highlight the cathedral’s role in education, arts and humanities, outreach to the poor and outreach to the growing Hispanic presence.

Bishop of Salt Lake City John C. Wester will preside over the celebration, which will include both the Cathedral Choir and El Coro Hispano de la Catedral.

Speakers will include President Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, University of Utah President Michael K. Young, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Mexican Consul to Utah Ignacio Rios Navarro.

A Cathedral Centennial Lecture will be delivered by Deacon Owen Cummings on the evening of Tuesday August 11.

Wednesday and Thursday evening will feature a Centennial Concert performance of Sir Edward Elgar’s "The Dream of Gerontius." The work is a dramatic setting of the 1865 poem by the English theologian and Catholic convert John Henry Cardinal Newman, whose beatification is still pending.

On Friday of Cathedral Week there will be Vespers for the Solemnity of the Assumption and a children’s procession from the old 1871 cathedral location to the present cathedral.

The former bishop of Salt Lake City, Archbishop of San Francisco George H. Niederauer, will be homilist at the service. Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be in attendance as will other visiting bishops.

That evening Son by Four, a Latin music group from Puerto Rico, will perform a concert at the cathedral to be followed on the plaza by a fiesta with special music and traditional foods.

On Saturday Bishop Wester will celebrate an afternoon Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption, with Cardinal Levada as homilist. The annual Bishop’s Dinner to benefit the cathedral will be held in the evening.

On Sunday morning, August 16, Bishop Wester will celebrate a Parish Centennial Mass at the cathedral, while a Spanish Centennial Mass will be celebrated in the afternoon by Bishop Emeritus of Sacramento William K. Weigand, who until 1994 was the seventh bishop of Salt Lake City.

Msgr. Joseph Mayo, cathedral pastor, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the cathedral was modeled on ninth century cathedrals of Europe, which had plazas for public events as well as art and architecture for congregants.

"The whole combination of art and architecture and music found their home in the cathedral," Msgr. Mayo said. "They were basically gathering places."