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El Paso, Texas: Saint Patrick Cathedral

About Saint Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas:

The construction began when the first stone was laid and blessed by Father Edward Barry S.J. and Father Francis Roy, S.J. on July 31, 1914, the feast day of Saint Ignatius Loyola and was dedicated Thanksgiving Day November 29,1917.

The style is a blend of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture.

The construction of the Baldachino (main altar) is a canopy-like structure that projects out from a wall and is supported by columns and is used specifically over an altar or seat of honor. The supporting columns on either side of the main altar are 15 ’12 inches thick and 8 feet 8 inches tall. Six different marbles were used: Numidian red, Brown Sienna, Champville yellow, Blanco P. (white), black, gold, and Sylvan green. The mosaic is Venetian red and gold.

The Cathedral’s original pipe organ was made by George Gilgen & Sons of St. Louis at a cost of $7,000. It had 2500 pipes and was electrical in its mechanism, and had a marvelous tone.

In 1929 the original glass windows were replaced with the existing stained-glass windows. The twenty stained glass windows (running east to west) show the scenes of Jesus Christ from His birth to resurrection. The windows were custom made by the Emil Frei Art Glass Co. of St. Louis, Missouri and Munich, Germany. The company was founded in 1898 by Bavarian-born Emil Frei, Sr. The Company is still designing beautiful works of art for churches from New York to San Francisco. Their work is equal in every respect to any of the best windows imported from Europe. The glass used was mouth-blown antique glass from Germany. Various parishioners donated the windows with an inscription to a member of their family or friend.

The Cathedral has undergone minor renovation to maintain the structural integrity of the building over the years. On May 17, 1988, during a thunderstorm, a lightning bolt struck the steeple and set it on fire causing considerable damage. The damaged steeple was removed and a new one erected. The organ was completely destroyed due to extensive water damage as well as part of the interior of the church. This forced the decision to move ahead on the plans to renovate the Cathedral, bringing it in accordance with the requirements of the Second Vatican Council.

The total cost of the renovation was $660,000. This included enlarging the sanctuary by removing a portion of the communion rail. The Bishop’s and priest’s chairs were placed facing the congregation. A new permanent altar and ambo were installed incorporating a section of the removed altar rail. An entrance to accommodate the handicapped, a new sound system, and a small gathering plaza at the top of the stairs leading into the Cathedral were the main focal points of the renovation.

The large Crucifix mounted in the choir loft was a gift given in commemoration of Bishop Anthony J. Schuler, S.J. on the occasion of his fiftieth jubilee upon entering the Society of Jesus. It was originally placed in the sanctuary on Good Friday 1936 where it remained until it was moved to its present location during the renovation.

The beautiful painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe located in a niche on the west side of the church is over 300 years old. It is from Zacatecas, Mexico, given by an anonymous donor to the Cathedral in 2002.

On the left side of the main altar is a small chapel. Initially it was used for early services, private masses and official meetings. During past years the chapel was named St. Rita’s Chapel and later, Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel.  The chapel was then selected as the “Chapel of Repose” where a new tabernacle was placed.

Stained-glass windows were donated by individual parishioners and installed in 2002. Griffin Studios of Ruidoso are designers of the windows depicting the seven Sacraments.

The Cathedral has the distinct privilege of having a canonized saint who was ordained in the church on January 25, 1918. He was martyred in the city of Santa Isabel, Chihuahua, Mexico on February 11, 1937 at the age of forty-two. He is interred in the Dolores cemetery, Chihuahua. Pope John Paul II canonized Father Maldonado in 2002.Construction on St. Patrick Cathedral started on April 7, 1914 with the founding of the Diocese of El Paso one month prior, and was dedicated on November 29, 1917, Thanksgiving Day. The Cathedral has since been the mother church of the Diocese of El Paso, home to daily and weekly liturgical celebrations.

The Cathedral also contains the relics of Saint Pedro de Jesus Maldonado

About Saint Pedro de Jesus Maldonado:

Born Pedro de Jesús Maldonado in the City of Chihuahua, Mexico  on June 15, 1892, he began his seminarian formation at the age of 17 where he was known for his piety and Eucharistic devotion. One day, after he had completed the Spiritual Exercises, he told the rector of the seminary, “I have thought of always having my heart in heaven and in the Tabernacle.”

After concluding his studies in Chihuahua, he was ordained a priest on January 25, 1918 in the Cathedral of St. Patrick, in the Diocese of El Paso, by Bishop Anthony Joseph Schuler, S.J., since the Bishop of Chihuahua was sick in Mexico City. His first Solemn Mass was on February 11, 1918 in the Church of the Holy Family in Chihuahua on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

A Marxist government took power in Mexico during the years of 1926 to 1937, and the Church endured persecution. (resulting in what is known as the Cristero War), Father Maldonado had to flee from the police and government agents who constantly persecuted him. At one point, he was forced to seek refuge in the City of El Paso, but his vocation was stronger than his fears and he returned to minister to his people in Mexico.

On February 10, 1937, Ash Wednesday, Fr. Maldonado was arrested by agents of the government, who had discovered his hiding place in a ranch and brought him barefoot to the town hall. There they beat him and fractured his skull, which caused his left eye to pop out. He had brought with him a Pyx with the Eucharist, which had fallen to the floor. One of the men who was beating him took one of the Hosts and handed it to Fr. Maldonado, saying, “Eat this and see if He can save you now.” He did not know that he was fulfilling the Saint’s last wish. Just the night before, during holy hour, the faithful heard Fr. Maldonado pray to the Lord that he would give his life for the end of the Christian Persecution, if only he would be allowed to take communion before his death.

At the petition of some local women who saw the seriousness of his condition, he was allowed to be taken to Chihuahua City, where he died on February 11, 1937, on the 19th anniversary of his first solemn Mass. He died from severe cerebral damage. According to his death certificate, Pedro de Jesus Maldonado-Lucero died at 5:15 pm at age 44.

On November 22, 1992, Fr. Maldonado was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II. On May 25, 2000, he was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II..

The relics of San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado were kept in  a wooden urn in the Cathedral of Chihuahua. On January 25, 2018, on the 100th anniversary of his Priestly Ordination, the Archdiocese of Chihuahua donated an urn with remains to the Diocese of El Paso. The Faithful of the Diocese can now venerate his relics at Saint Patrick Cathedral.

Visiting Saint Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas:

Address:  1118 North Mesa St. El Paso, TX 79902

Tel: +1 (915) 533-4451

email: parishoffice@saintpatrickcathedral.org

Click here for the official website of Saint Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas

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