A Quiet History
Upon passing through the majestic Corinthian columns and entering the enormous oak doors, I was greeted with quiet. Pure, unadulterated quiet. The quiet that only churches, museums, and other buildings of great importance can achieve. It greeted me like an old friend. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I had forgotten what this kind of quiet sounds like.
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart isn’t always this hushed, though, as it serves as the Mother Church of the Diocese of Richmond (meaning it is the head Catholic church in Richmond). Masses are held every day, some of which are designed to meet the scheduling needs of practicing VCU students. It also has over 40 ministries to actively involve all parishioners.
All of this community engagement started on November 29, 1906, when the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was consecrated. Just three years earlier, Archbishop Diomede Falconio (Apostolic Delegate of the U.S.) laid the cornerstone, taken from the Garden of Gethsemane. The cathedral was designed by New York architect Joseph H. McGuire, in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, and completely paid for b Thomas Fortune Ryan and his wife, Ida. Ryan, a wildly wealth business tycoon with a charitable disposition, gave today’s equivalent of two millions dollars for the cathedral’s construction.
On November 29, the procession to the new cathedral was lengthy and featured many prominent Richmonders and Catholic figures. The consecration of the cathedral took three hours, and once done, the first mass was held with hundreds of people in attendance.
Catholic or not, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is worth a look for its history and beautiful design. Even better, though, it can reintroduce a missed friend – quiet.