The Cathedral of St. Paul

Exterior of the Cathedral of Saint Paul

TripSavvy / Chris Bacarella

The Cathedral of St. Paul in the city of St. Paul is over 100 years old. The cathedral is the vision of Archbishop John Ireland, and architect and devoted Catholic Emmanuel Louis Masquery.

Construction of the building commenced in 1907 and the exterior was completed in 1914. Work on the interior proceeded at a slower pace, as funding allowed, but the Cathedral was able to hold the first Mass in the partially completed building on Easter Sunday in 1915.

Masquery died in 1917, before completing his design for the interior. Archbishop Ireland passed away only a year later. Archbishop Ireland's successors, Archbishop Dowling and Bishop John Murray, oversaw work on the interior, which was to take until 1941 to complete.


The Cathedral of St. Paul is considered to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in America. The design is in the Beaux-Art style and was inspired by Renaissance cathedrals in France.

The exterior is Minnesotan St. Cloud granite. The interior walls are American Travertine from Mankato, Minnesota, and the interior columns are made of several types of marble.

Topping the Cathedral is a 120-foot wide copper dome. A lantern on top of the dome brings the total height of the Cathedral to 306-feet-tall from the base to the top of the lantern.

The interior space is no less impressive. As you walk into the Cathedral, watch out for the people visiting the cathedral for the first time. They tend to stop abruptly in front of you to stare at the stunning interior.

Laid out in a Greek cross, the interior is bright and open. Masquery envisioned a Cathedral with no obstructions for anyone attending Mass.

The interior ceiling soars to 175 feet high at the top of the 96 feet wide dome. At the base of the dome, stained glass windows let in light, and more several windows pierce the walls.

A bronze baldachin, a canopy over the altar, honors the life of St. Paul.

Although the Cathedral's design was inspired by ancient French cathedrals, it has modern conveniences, like electric lighting, and heating. Heating a place like this can't come cheap, but it's sure to be appreciated by the congregation on winter days.

Worship at the Cathedral

The Cathedral is the Archbishop's official church and the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis is a co-cathedral to St. Paul's cathedral.

Mass is held every day in the cathedral, and several times on Sunday.

There are chapels dedicated to the Sacred Heart, to Mary, Joseph, and to Saint Peter.

The Shrines of the Nations honors saints important to the many ethnic groups that helped build the Cathedral, and the city of St. Paul.

  • Saint Anthony of Padua of Italy
  • Saint Boniface of Germany
  • Saints Cyril and Methodius of the Slavic Nations
  • Saint Patrick of Ireland
  • Saint John the Baptist of France
  • Saint Therese, the Protector of all Missions

Visiting the Cathedral

The cathedral is on a high bluff overlooking downtown St. Paul, at the intersection of Summit Avenue and Selby Avenue.

The cathedral is open to visitors every day, except on holidays and Holy days. It is free to visit the cathedral but donations are requested.

A parking lot on Selby Avenue offers free parking to Cathedral visitors.

The Cathedral and the lantern are illuminated at night. The Cathedral can be seen from much of downtown St. Paul and is an impressive sight.

Visitors may explore on their own, except during Mass or when a special event is being held. To see and appreciate the best of the Cathedral, join one of the free Guided tours are held several times a week.

Location: 239 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102
Telephone 651-228-1766

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