As the Year of St. Paul draws to a close, the Vatican has designated the Cathedral of St. Paul, in St. Paul, Minn., as the nation’s first national shrine in honor of the apostle Paul.
The distinction was granted by the Office of the Holy See and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, following a request by St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt. It is Minnesota’s first national shrine.
According to canon (Church) law, “The term shrine signifies a church or other sacred place to which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular pious reason with the approval of the local ordinary (bishop).”
Even prior to the designation, the cathedral received upwards of 200,000 visitors annually. With the new designation, it will likely receive more, especially during these last 12 days of the Year of St. Paul.
Having grown up in St. Paul, I can attest to the grandeur of the cathedral, even for a then non-Catholic. Set on a hill overlooking the city, the cathedral is not only a historical landmark, but a testament to the Catholic faith of those who settled in the Twin Cities. When I was going through the RCIA process and it came time for my first sacrament of reconciliation, I turned to the cathedral. I attended my first chrism Mass at the cathedral. Modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome, it’s a beautiful church, and over time it has become a catechism in stone and glass.
Emmanuel Masqueray, the architect, was also responsible for the Basilica of St. Mary’s in Minneapolis.
To learn more about the cathedral shrine, read Dia Boyle’s book Stone and Glass: The Meaning of the Cathedral of St. Paul.