Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Beautiful Cathedral in an Unexpected Place

Surprisingly, one of the USA's most beautiful Catholic cathedrals is in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you ever visit Salt Lake, do not miss the opportunity to worship in, or at least visit, the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The exterior is unassuming, but the interior is wonderful in every detail, from the brilliant murals on the walls to the intricate woodwork encountered throughout. Although the photos don't really do it justice, you can get some idea of this cathedral's beauty by selecting the "Pictorial Tour" option on this page.

The history of its initial construction is fascinating. Although Salt Lake's 19'th and early 20'th century Catholic community was small, it included a disproportionate number of the owners and laborers in the many nearby mines, particularly in Park City, partly because Mormon leaders at the time discouraged mining in favor of pursuits like agriculture, viewing mining almost the way many Protestants of the day viewed gambling. Substantial wealth came to a number of German and Irish Catholics from those Park City mines, and that wealth helps to explain the extraordinary beauty of their cathedral relative to the small size of their community.