A January visit to New York City gave the lovely Robin and me the opportunity to visit the venerable and influential St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. We were disappointed to see the church wrapped in scaffolding for a major renovation project...but then, it is a good thing that the church is undergoing a major renovation. According to the church website, "The funds necessary to complete the first two phases of work have been raised totaling over $75 million dollars. The phases include the interior and exterior of the Cathedral from 5th Avenue to the high altar. Key scopes of work in these phases are the restoration of the gallery organ, the Cathedral’s pews, stained glass windows, exterior stonework, altar niches and ceiling plasterwork. Efforts are underway to secure the additional funding for the remainder of the work on the Cathedral campus, including the high altar and Lady Chapel, a new heating and cooling system and the Cathedral garden."
More than five million people visit St. Pat's every year. Many come as tourists, of course, but others come to worship and pray (in fact, more than one million prayer candles are lit there every year).
We entered just as some of the faithful were gathering for noon mass on Saturday. We signed the electronic guest book (pretty cool!), and wandered around for awhile. Numerous side chapels and altars line both sides of the church. The striking baptistery, below, stands opposite the North Transept.
The cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was laid in 1858 and the doors opened the following year. At the time, the cathedral's location was considered to be too far outside the city. Today, of course, the beautiful Gothic structure is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Dubbed "America’s Parish Church," St. Patrick’s is the "seat" of the Archbishop of New York, His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.