First-person memory of the first Mass at the cathedral

| February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

From The Catholic Bulletin, Dec. 20, 1974, excerpted from the text of Msgr. Richard T. Doherty’s eulogy for Msgr. Lawrence A. Ryan, rector of the Cathedral of
St. Paul 1916-’40. At the time of the first Mass at the cathedral in 1915, the author was 10 or 11 years old.

By Msgr. Richard T. Doherty

I well remember the first Mass celebrated here at six o’clock in the morning of Palm Sunday, March 28, in the year 1915. It is one of those mental images that fastens itself in the mind of a child where it remains bright and clear in spite of the passage of time.

I can still see Archbishop John Ireland at the altar, beaming with joy. . . . On that morning the cathedral was hardly more than a shell. Only the wall and the dome had been erected. The walls were completed, in a sense, but the bare bricks that composed them were exposed on the inside.

Imagine, if you can, the vast expanse of windows without stained glass and the harsh daylight that came through ordinary glass to flood the bleak interior.

A single unshaded electric light bulb suspended on a long electric cord from the center of the lofty dome was the principle source of light for the main body of the church after nightfall.

The sanctuary was bare, except for the wooden altar and other sanctuary furniture taken from the old cathedral.

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Category: Cathedral Centennial