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Wheeling, West Virginia: Cathedral of Saint Joseph

About the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia:

St. Joseph Cathedral was built between 1923 and 1926, under Most Reverend John James Swint, the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Swint oversaw the construction of so many churches, schools, and hospitals during his service as Bishop that he earned the nickname “God’s Bricklayer.” This occurred during a nationwide period of infrastructure expansion in the Church known as “brick and mortar Catholicism.”

The new Lombard Romanesque style cathedral, which replaced the older cathedral on the same site, was designed by Pittsburgh architect Edward J. Weber. Constructed with Indiana Limestone, it remains one of the largest churches in the state.

The design was inspired by the Church of San Pietro in Toscanella and the cathedral in Prato, near Florence, Italy. Bishop Swint wanted the dome to be based on the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. The sculpture “Christ in Majesty” near the main doorway was carved by Francis Aretz, who also sculpted the Stations of the Cross. According to the architect, the colorful interior of St. Joseph was created in the Mediaeval Byzantine style. The primary dome is filled with a depiction of heaven. The eye-catching mural, “Enthroned Christ and the Communion of the Saints,” which fills the half-dome of the apse, was painted by Felix B. Lieftuchter, and George W. Sotter designed the medieval-style stained glass.

In 1973, changes were made to the interior in keeping with Vatican II standards, and in 1995-1996, the cathedral was restored and cleaned, including the murals and stained glass. A new pulpit, altar, lectern and font designed by Tracy R. Stephens were added.

Bishop Whelan also brought the Visitation Nuns (Mt. de Chantal School) to Wheeling and was one of the founders of Wheeling Hospital.

The original cathedral was renamed for St. Joseph at Whelan’s request in 1872. When Bishop Whelan died in 1874, West Virginia’s Catholic population had quadrupled since the Diocese was founded in 1850.

Extensive renovations and restorations to repair the cathedral’s interior finishes were completed in the 1990s.

Finding the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia:

Address:  1300 Eoff St, Wheeling, WV 26003

Tel:  +1 (304) 233-4121

email: dfahey@dwc.org

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