After several weeks of fund raising efforts through The Great Cathedral Fair in October and November of 1878, his successor and the first American cardinal, John Cardinal McCloskey presided over the dedication of the Cathedral on May 25, 1879.
Each generation has added to her splendor. Her spires were completed in 1888 and The Lady Chapel in 1908. Her Kilgen Organs were installed from 1928 to 1930. Major capital improvements were made in the 1940’s and the 1970’s under Cardinals Spellman and Cooke, respectively. The Kilgen organs were restored in the mid 1990s, and the gem of the Cathedral, the Lady Chapel, was restored in 2003. Recent restorations have included the main altar, the chapels of Saints Anthony, Elizabeth, Jean Baptiste de la Salle, Louis and Michael, and the sacristy. There is a new shrine in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa which includes paintings and statuary of Saints Casimir, Faustina, Jadwiga, Maximilian Kolbe and Stanislaus Kostka. In 2005, the chapels of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Andrew were also restored.
Now, as in the past, the Cathedral remains a gift from one generation to the next. And today, through The Friends of St. Patrick’s, memorial gifts, The Legacy Society, The Cathedral Preservation Fund, special events, spiritual enrollments and general support, we are renewing our efforts to preserve this masterpiece for the glory of God and the service of humanity.
As Brendan Gill wrote in his introduction to St. Patrick’s Cathedral: A Centennial History, “In the Old World, for well over a thousand years the center of a city was thought to be wherever its Cathedral stood…. We are a city that, even within its comparatively narrow confines, has always tended to spin apart. To speak only of Manhattan (the original New York City of Hughes’ day), we have Wall Street and Greenwich Village and Chinatown and Chelsea and Times Square and the Upper East Side and Riverside Drive and Harlem and Washington Heights and scores of other districts and neighborhoods; yet we have few places that convey an authentic sense of being at the very heart of things. St. Patrick’s is such a place. Aided by the graceful presence of its neighbor, Rockefeller Center, …the Cathedral dominates Fifth Avenue as easily today as it has ever done…. Thanks to the program of preservation, …the building has never looked more beautiful. There it stands for our delight and, if necessary, for our consolation. Its front steps are a parvis, if not a Paradise, and young and old take the sun upon their faces there as a sort of benediction, while the scattered benedictions of a thousand rosy candles wink and twinkle within.”
Herein, we are pleased to share photos depicting the evolution of the Cathedral and the city which rose up around it, all testament to generations of faithful patrons, craftsmen, laborers and leadership; and, of course, to “Dagger” John Hughes, one of the most visionary and colorful characters in American Catholic history.
We honor Archbishop Hughes’ amazing foresight, courage and persistence. We pray that our vision and efforts may be ever worthy of his original inspiration. And we humbly pray that our extended community may continue to dream great dreams and utilize the splendid St. Patrick's Cathedral, through your generosity, in ways old and new for the glory of God.