Monday, June 22, 2009

Cathedral of St. Paul - New National Shrine

Not that anyone needs another excuse to come to Minnesota - (what many people around here call "God's Country") - but now the Cathedral of St. Paul has been established as a National Shrine!

As the Year of St. Paul draws to a close on June 29, the Cathedral of St. Paul announced its new designation as National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.

The Cathedral is among about 100 U.S. Catholic churches that have been honored with the designation — and it’s the only one dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship.

The designation comes from the Holy See and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the request of Archbishop John Nienstedt.

The title ‘shrine’ recognizes the Cathedral’s national importance and designates it as a pilgrimage destination for groups from across the United States, said Father Joseph Johnson, the Cathedral’s rector.

The Cathedral began the application process when the Year of St. Paul was announced, Father Johnson said. He felt the Cathedral had a particular responsibility to heed the jubilee year’s call to greater devotion to the Apostle Paul.

He also thinks the national shrine designation honors the vision of the Cathedral’s founder, Father Lucien Galtier, the first priest to establish a parish in the area in 1840. Because of his devotion to the saint, he named the log chapel he built after St. Paul, which led to the name of the city. “Father Galtier looked to the person of Paul when he arrived in this wilderness, and it’s interesting that now the universal church has said we’re all going to do that,” Father Johnson said.

Because of the shrine designation, the Cathedral will continue some of the programming it began during the jubilee year, including its First Saturday series, which featured speakers, prayer and reflection. It already offers several weekly tours.The new shrine has also established the Archconfraternity of the Apostle Paul to help people feel connected to the shrine, Father Johnson said.

Members serve as the spiritual apostolate of the National Shrine of the Apostle

Paul in five particular ways:
- Greater devotion to St. Paul and his intercession.
- Study of and reflection on the Pauline epistles in the New Testament.
- Practice of corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
- Commitment to evangelization, especially in everyday encounters
- Connection with the spiritual life at the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.

Last week, as a going away present, my co-workers and I all went on a tour of the Cathedral, something we have "always wanted to do", but never got around to. When you live in a particular city, I have noticed you often don't do the "touristy" things associated with that region. I have been to the Cathedral - perhaps hundreds of time - for Mass or other events, but never had a complete understanding of what each window, or fresco or marble stone meant or came from.

The experience was truly memorable. We spent time in each side chapel honoring the saints and learning about what went into building their chapel. Each marble slab in the side chapels came from the country of origin for the Saint. The stained glass windows and "rose windows" are priceless, yet at the time when the cathedral was constructed, they were a few thousand dollars. Unbelievable.

I will admit that the Connemara Marble from Ireland (the picture in the link does not do it justice) from St. Patrick's side chapel was the most radiant and beautiful of them all.

All in all, I highly recommend an organized tour of the Cathedral, it has given me a much greater and renewed sense of wonder and awe for this building men erected in honor of our good and loving God.

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