Cathedral of St. Mary
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607 NE Madison Ave., Peoria, IL
(Mailing Address: 504 Fulton St., Peoria, IL 61602)
Sunday: 10:30 A.M. (English); 12:15 P.M. (Spanish);
Friday: 8:30 A.M. (Spanish) (First Friday is at St. Joseph at 7pm)
Friday: 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (St. Thomas More Chapel)
1693 The Catholic faith first arrives into what is now Peoria with the establishment of the Mission of the Immaculate Conception by Fr. Gravier.
August 13, 1842 Rev. John Blaise Raho purchases lot between Madison and Jefferson Street for $100.
January 1845 Rev. John Drew is appointed the first pastor of Peoria.
June 1, 1845 Rev. Louis Parodi, C.M., lays cornerstone for first Peoria parish church dedicated to St. John the Apostle and Evangelist under the patronage of St. Philomena. It is a small one-story brick building, twenty-eight by sixty feet. At some point this is merged into St. Mary.
1846 The faithful organize the parish of St. Mary
June 16, 1851 Rev. Alphonse Montouri, C.M., lays cornerstone of the new St. Mary Church on the corner of Eaton (now Bryan) and Jefferson Street, replacing the old small church.
July 4, 1852 First services in St. Mary parish church are held and it later is named the first cathedral of the new diocese in 1875.
May 13, 1858 After the church’s tower has been demolished by a storm, a new brick tower with four small spires on the corners is erected. At this time, there are about 2,000 members of St. Mary Parish.
February 12, 1875 - Due to the rapid growth of the Church in Central Illinois, Pope Bl. Pius IX erects a new diocese of Peoria encompassing territory from the Mississippi River to the Indiana border. Peoria is chosen as the see city. The diocese is one of forty others he established in the United States.
May 22, 1877 Bishop John L. Spalding is installed as the first Bishop of Peoria. Rev. Benedict J. Spalding, Bishop’s brother, becomes pastor of St. Mary Church.
June 19, 1883 Bishop Spalding purchases a lot on the corner of Madison and Green Street for $6,500, assuming $2,500 mortgage on the property.
September 27, 1884 Peoria Architect Casper Mehler submits plans for a new gothic stone church.
April 8, 1885 Contract was signed between Schnell and the two Spalding brothers (Bishop and Fr. Ben)
May 15, 1885 First stone of the building has been laid.
June 28, 1885 Bishop Spalding lays cornerstone for the new Cathedral in Peoria. Rev. Ben Spalding, the pastor of St. Mary, personally directs and supervises the building of the Cathedral.
October 1885 Peoria Steam Marble Works has installed 14 highly polished Barre Vermont Granite columns. They are 28 ft 8” tall and 20” in diameter. Each column costs $3,650.
December 29, 1885 Sandmeyer Hardware Co. of Peoria has made the crosses for the Cathedral spires.
1886 Rev. Ben Spalding becomes ill. The work on the Cathedral slows down considerably as he leaves for his home in Kentucky due to his health.
1887 Rectory next to the Cathedral is being veneered with the same stone as the Cathedral.
November 28, 1887 Rev. Ben Spalding dies at the age of 38 due to a lung disease and overwork.
1888 Sacristy is finished and being used as a chapel for daily Masses, while the old St. Mary’s is still used on Sundays. The painting of the Crucifixion from the old St. Mary’s is installed above the main altar in the new Cathedral.
October 26, 1888 Stained-glass windows are being installed by a Chicago company.
March 25, 1889 Pews are being put in the new Cathedral. The flooring, sanctuary, and communion rail are all made out of wood. The church is lighted by candles and gas lights.
May 15, 1889 Exactly four years after the first stone had been laid, the new Cathedral is solemnly dedicated.
August 26, 1898 After the old St. Mary’s has been torn down, its bell is placed in the South Tower of the new Cathedral. The bell was cast in Troy, NY, in 1884.
1906 New white-marble communion rail, steps and two angels are donated by Mrs. Henebery.
1913 Bishop Edmund M. Dunne redecorates the Cathedral for Archbishop Spalding’s Golden Jubilee: three marble altars and two new stained-glass windows depicting Life of Mary are installed.
Summer 1914 Remaining 10 windows done by a Chicago artist Mr. Lascelles are being installed in the nave. All windows were donated by priests of the Diocese.
December 1930 Bishop Joseph H. Schlarman corresponds with Ralph A. Cram, an expert on Gothic design, on the thorough renovation of the Cathedral.
January 1931 Architect Cram makes sketches for the restoration.
1932-1933 Severe economic crisis in the country delays the renovation of the Cathedral.
January 1934 Bishop Schlarman’s renovation called “Redemption” begins. St. Louis Architect Victor J. Klutho has designed the Sienna Travertine Marble tile floor in the sanctuary along with the choir stalls and pews.
March 1935 Watson Engineering Co. of Peoria, IL, has installed new capitals on the Cathedral’s twelve granite columns for their better proportion.
May 1935 Kaletta Statuary Co. has completed the laying of the sanctuary floor made of Sienna Travertine.
December 24, 1935 Sixteen (16) large and twelve (12) small unique lanterns designed by Ralph A. Cram and made by the Kinsley & Mahler Co. of Peoria are installed. New cooling system donated by Mr. H. Dox is being installed, and it served until 1986.
May 1936 Wilbur H. Burnham is commissioned to do all stained-glass work for the Cathedral.
Fall 1936 Construction of the Lady Chapel, the narthex, stairs and two galleries has been completed.
February 3, 1937 New organ is dedicated to the memory of Bishop Spalding and Bishop Dunne. Fr. Lyford Kern and Dom Ermin Vitry, OSB, personally supervises the construction of the organ at the Wicks Factory in Highland, IL.
October 1937 Great Rose Window and new huge wooden entrance doors are installed.
December 8, 1937 Bishop Schlarman privately dedicates the Lady Chapel and erects the Stations of the Cross there.
1937 Mr. Schiller restores the painting of the Crucifixion.
April 1938 Throne for the Bishop, donated by clergy, is installed in the sanctuary of the Cathedral.
A new bronze, triple gold-plated sanctuary lamp is installed. Old wooden pulpit that hung from the second column is cut down to a smaller size and placed on the sanctuary floor. The Cathedral spires are being repaired by the Val Jobst Co. of Peoria. The new stained-glass windows of St. Thomas More Chapel are all in place and the frescoing of the sanctuary is complete.
November 24, 1938 Four remodeled altars are consecrated.
November 1939 Present windows in the nave and a new sound system have been installed.
September 1941 Frescoing of St. Thomas More Chapel completes the extensive “Redemption” renovation under the personal supervision of Bishop Schlarman.
1953 Bishop Cousins redecorates the sanctuary and the nave, pews are restored, and the painting of the Crucifixion is replaced with a hand-carved crucifix.
August 1955 Original crosses on the Cathedral spires are replaced with two shining golden crosses.
1964 Both spires are being repaired and painted by the Harry Geisert Co. of Breese, IL.
April-September 1969 Dwight Roofing Co. is replacing all metal and wood on the spires with all new copper. All wooden window frames on the spires are replaced.
October 1969 New heating system is installed by the McQuellon’s Heating Co. of Peoria, IL.
April 1973 Peoria Thermal Co. is installing new air-conditioning units in the Cathedral.
November 1973 Jenkins Organ Co. of East Peoria, IL, has completely cleaned the Cathedral organ and replaced its parts.
May 1975 At the cost of $11,850, the Cathedral organ is being totally redone by the Schlicker Organ Co. of New York.
1979 Cathedral spires are now lighted.
1980 Sixteen window frames of both towers are being replaced.
1986 Bishop O’Rourke renovates the Cathedral. The Lady Chapel is made into a Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
1986 The marble communion rail is used for a new altar and ambo. The painting of the Crucifixion is re-installed above the main altar. The outside of the church was completely renovated, and on the north side a ramp for handicapped was added.
1988 The Cathedral is being re-dedicated.
Spring 2002 Bishop Jenky moves the tabernacle back to the sanctuary. The gold-leafed triptych of Bishop Schlarman returns to the Lady Chapel.
Fall 2004 St. Thomas More Chapel is being transformed into a Cathedral Collection of Relics.
2005 Cathedra (Bishop’s Chair), sanctuary and pews are restored.
2006 Restored traditional Stations of the Cross are installed in the nave. St. Joseph’s Altar is remodeled.
2007 On the 130th anniversary of arrival of our First Bishop John L. Spalding, the diocese is rededicated under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Her image is solemnly enthroned by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., in a gilded triptych in the Lady Chapel.
2016 After nearly two years of outside repairs, a historic restoration of the cathedral is completed by the Daprato-Rigali Studios of Chicago. The church once again features deep colors with a new golden dome, starry sky, various murals, renovated altars and much rediscovered beauty of the Mother-church of the diocese and Peoria landmark.