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Honolulu, Hawaii: Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

About The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace:

Said to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States and one of the oldest existing buildings in the downtown area. It is dedicated under the patronage of Our Lady of Peace because the first Catholic missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands, members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary gave that title to their first foundation in a new land.

The Cathedral itself was formally dedicated on August 15, 1843. The anniversary is observed on August 16 because the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven is celebrated on August 15.

The building is made of simple coral stone blocks which were brought to the site from the Kaka‘ako shores. These blocks and the ones used in the building of Kawaiaha‘o Church come from the same coral reef. When both buildings were completed, they were similar in appearance. The inside of the building was very stark; simple wooden altars and lauhala-matted floors.


The tower clock also has an interesting history. A clock was ordered from France soon after the dedication of the Cathedral. Bishop Maigret sent the order through the office of the superior of the Sacred Hearts Fathers and Brothers in Valparaiso, Chile. It was sent there for inspection before it was forwarded to Hawaii. For some unknown reason, it was switched with an older clock in Chile which arrived in Hawai‘i and was installed about 1852 at the base of the original tower. When the roof was raised several feet in the 1870’s the clock was positioned in the back wall of the Cathedral. It is the oldest tower clock in Hawai‘i.

The Aeolian-Skinner organ, Opus 916 is the third pipe organ to be installed in the Cathedral. The original organ was a French organ which was installed in 1847 and had the distinction of being the first pipe organ in Hawai‘i. This was replaced in 1876 by a pipe organ from England and the statue of St. Cecilia, the patroness of sacred music, was added to the statuary of the Cathedral. The present instrument was dedicated on September 9, 1934. It was partially renovated and restored in 1985 and is now one of the oldest functioning pipe organs in Hawai‘i. Continued restoration assures it will provide music for the Cathedral in future generations.

The statue of Our Lady of Peace in the Cathedral courtyard was blessed Bishop Gulstan Ropert, ss.cc., on December 24, 1893. It marked the spot where it was thought that the first small wooden missionary church stood. the plaques on the four sides of the pedestal are engraved in Hawaiian, English, French, and Portuguese with the words: “In memory of the first Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of Peace 1827-1893.” It is a copy of an original statue which was carved of wood in the early 16th century and is still venerated at the Convent of the Sacred Hearts Sisters in Paris. The first establishment of the Sacred Hearts missionaries was dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Peace. The Feast of Our Lady of Peace is observed on July 9.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace is the site of the ordination to the priesthood of Saint Damien deVeuster, ss.cc. on May 21, 1864.  Saint Damien’s statue stands in front of the State Capitol in Honolulu and also in the Capitol of the United States in Washington, D.C. where each state is allowed to have two people who were significant in the history of the state honored. The other statue is that of King Kamehameha the Great.

Another notable feature here is the tomb of Saint Marianne Cope….who ministered to the lepers of Molokai after the death of Father Damien.  You can read more about her here.

Finding the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu:

Address:  1184 Bishop Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

Tel: +1 (808) 536-7036    Fax:  +1 (808) 585-3383

email: coolop@rcchawaii.org

Click here for the official website of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

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