St. Patrick’s Cathedral is an outstanding example of the American Gothic Revival style, designed by the distinguished New York architect, James Renwick, Jr. The foundation stone was laid in 1858 and construction began the following year. The cathedral opened in 1879. In 1901, Charles Matthews’ design for the Lady Chapel was executed at the east end.
St. Patrick’s has just undergone a complete structural and aesthetic restoration, preparing it to serve future generations of God’s people.
Fifth Avenue Bronze Doors:
The main doors that welcome visitors into St. Patrick’s Cathedral each weigh 9,280 lbs. Astonishingly, they are so well balanced that they can be opened by a single person. Carved into their facades are the figures of holy men and women. They include: St. Joseph, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Patrick, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The doors were officially dedicated and blessed on December 23, 1949 by Francis Cardinal Spellman.
The doors were restored and re-installed in August 2013. See the arduous process of moving the doors by
The Sanctuary has undergone many changes since the Cathedral opened in 1979. Beginning in 1927, the original altar, designed by the Cathedral architect, James Renwick, Jr., was removed and part of it was installed at the Fordham University Church on the Bronx campus. The sanctuary was raised and extended to a length of 76 feet. Choir stalls were set along the sides with a new oak cathedra (bishop’s chair). In 1942, the current high altar was installed beneath a gilded bronze baldachino. From the ceiling hang the galeros or red hats of the first four cardinal archbishops of New York: Cardinals McCloskey, Farley, Hayes, and Spellman. The galero is no longer presented to new cardinals.
In 2015 the galeros were removed, restored, and then re-hung in the ambulatory, just outside the sanctuary. The cathedra’s baldachino was also restored and returned to its location above the archbishop’s chair.
In 1883, the remains of Archbishop Hughes, the visionary behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral, were solemnly transferred from the crypt of the first St. Patrick’s Cathedral in lower Manhattan to a crypt below the high altar of the new Cathedral. The crypt is the burial place for all of the archbishops who have served the Archdiocese of New York, most recently Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop emeritus, who died March 5, 2015.
Five other individuals have been given the great honor of being interred in the crypt along with the former Archbishops of New York:
- Msgr. Michael Lavelle who served as Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for 52 years.
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen who was one of the greatest and most loved communicators of the 20th century.
- Venerable Pierre Toussaint who was an Haitian Catholic slave born in 1766. He became one of the first Catholic philanthropists in New York.
- Archbishop John Maguire (Coadjutor Archbishop, 1965–1980; interred 1989)
- Archbishop Joseph F. Flannelly (Auxiliary Bishop, 1948–1969; interred 1973)
A Lady Chapel was planned for the Cathedral by its architect, James Renwick, Jr., but he was not able to execute it. In 1900, Charles Matthews was selected to design the chapel we know today, which was built with a bequest from the estate of Margaret and Eugene Kelly. She was the niece of Archbishop Hughes and he was one of the founders of Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. The first Mass in the Lady Chapel was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1906.
The Lady Chapel is in the French Gothic style and was inspired by the 13th century Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Of particular note are the windows by English stained glass maker Paul Vincent Woodroffe, the statue of Our Lady of New York by Oronzio Maldarelli, and the Annunciation mosaic by Hildreth Meiere on the front of the altar.
The Lady Chapel is reserved for prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Altar of the Sacred Heart – The painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe graces a prominent location at the Altar of the Sacred Heart just to the right of the Main Sanctuary. Our Lady’s image as the Patroness of the Americas draws more visitors to this altar than to any other area of the Cathedral.
The golden baldachin that hangs over the Guadalupe altar once stood on 4 poles above the Archbishops chair. It was moved by Cardinal Cooke because he felt that it was too lavish to be a decoration for the Archbishop’s seat.
This font was moved in 1986 from the original baptistery at the west end of the Cathedral to its present site before the Altar of the Holy Family in the north transept. Made of white marble, it rests beneath a canopy of gilded, carved oak. At Christmas time, this area hosts the Cathedral’s famous Christmas crèche.
The Gift Shop -
51st Street Location
Located across the street from the Cathedral on 51st Street, the Gift Shop offer a large selection of religious and spiritual items including rosaries, statues, medals, prayer cards, books, children's giftware, and keepsake gifts made especially for the Cathedral. The rear of the Gift Shop also houses a historical display that features chalices, vestments, photos and articles from decades past.
All net proceeds from your purchase sustain the social outreach, educational, and pastoral ministry of the Cathedral, and support the upkeep and maintenance of St. Patrick's.
The Gift Shop -
Located in the Cathedral itself, the Annex is tucked away near the 5th Avenue entrance. The Annex offers a variety of medals, rosary beads and prayer cards. The full selection of gift items available to visitors can be found in the main Gift Shop located across the street in 51st Street.