Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Photos of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France

Here are photos of the oldest Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis that is still an operating parish.



The Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, is in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, situated on the high terrace overlooking the Mississippi River. It is on the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial of the National Park Service, site of the world-famous symbol of Saint Louis, the Gateway Arch.

This is perhaps the most famous church in Saint Louis, being so close to Arch, and also due to its age and importance. This is also a popular wedding location.

The church is made of native limestone, with a sandstone facade. In gold letters on the pediment is the Tetragrammaton: the Hebrew letters YHWH, the Holy Name of the Lord given to Moses. Below this is the Trinitarian statement "DEO UNI ET TRINO".

A plaque on the facade reads:

BASILICA OF SAINT LOUIS, KING


ON THIS LOCATION THE FIRST CHURCH IN ST. LOUIS,
A SMALL WOOD STRUCTURE WAS BLESSED ON JUNE 14,
1770. SIX YEARS LATERS IT WAS REPLACED BY A
LARGER CHURCH OF WHITE OAK TIMBERS BLESSED
AND USED FOR DIVINE SERVICE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN
EARLY SUMMER 1776. IT ALSO SERVED AS THE
CATHEDRAL FOR THE INSTALLATION OF BISHOP LOUIS
DUBOURG, THE BISHOP OF LOUISIANA AND THE
FLORIDAS, WHO TOOK UP RESIDENCE HERE JANUARY 5
1818. LITTLE MORE THAN TWO MONTHS LATER ON MARCH
29, 1818, THE CORNERSTONE FOR A BRICK CATHEDRAL WAS
BLESSED AND PLACED. THE BRICK CATHEDRAL WAS DESTINED
TO REMAIN UNFINSHED WAS SUPPLANTED BY THE
PRESENT STONE CHURCH. BISHOP JOSEPH ROSATI, CM,
BLESSED THE CORNERSTONE ON AUGUST 1, 1831 AND
SOLEMNLY CONSECRATED THIS CHURCH ON OCTOBER
26, 1834. ON OCTOBER 18, 1914, THE TITLE OF
"CATHEDRAL" CEASED WHEN THE PRESENT CATHEDRAL
LOCATED ON THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE CITY WAS
BLESSED. HOWEVER, ON JANUARY 25, 1961, POPE
JOHN XXIII DESIGNATED THIS HISTORIC CHURCH
A BASILICA, THEREBY CONFERRING ON IT WORLDWIDE
RECOGNITION. TODAY THIS IS THE BASILICA OF
SAINT LOUIS, KING, POPULARLY:

THE OLD CATHEDRAL

PLAQUE ERECTED BY KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS, 1916.
REPLACED: 1982



The neo-classical interior of the church is quite bright; due to clear-glass windows and a white color scheme. The sanctuary has a fairly traditional arrangement, with altar rail and central Tabernacle. The church at one time had a high altar, since removed; the old Crucifix is relocated in the back of the church. A large Crucifixion painting is now over the altar. The church has three altars; the altar of Saint Joseph on the left, and Mary on the right. Noontime masses during the work week are well-attended, with many tourists visiting the Arch and office-workers who walk here during lunch. This church is also highly indulgenced, and was once the Cathedral for half of the United States.


Here is the baptismal font, under an old restored painting of King Louis IX that was a gift from the King of France. Reconciliation is given on weekdays at 11:30 a.m. in the confessional box to the left.


A statue of Saint Joan of Arc. The old Bishop's cathedra is seen here on the altar.


The church is in downtown Saint Louis, in the oldest part of the City, near the river. Behind the church you can see the offices of KMOX radio; the Adam's Mark Hotel, and the Mansion House center. The flag is at half-staff in memory of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.


Here is a view of the Saint Louis riverfront, under the Gateway Arch, near the Basilica. Pierre Laclede and Auguste Choteau founded Saint Louis on this site in 1764, making this the last colonial city in North America. Earlier French settlements were situated on bottomlands next to the river, but this was set on high ground to avoid flooding. The river at this location is narrow, deep, and swift, making travel difficult; and the Chain of Rocks falls about eleven miles north of here was a barrier to navigation. Goods destined to go west of Saint Louis had to be unloaded here and shipped by land to the Missouri River. The Eads Bridge in the background opened to rail traffic in 1874. Although the steamboat trade is long gone, the river remains a highway for huge barges carrying commodities.

Old Cathedral
209 Walnut Street
Saint Louis, MO 63102

1 comment:

  1. During the early 90's, I was in the college choir at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas. We were invited to sing at a Sunday morning mass at the Basilica and we traveled there by plane. It was my first plane ride and I was never nervous or scared because I knew that our trip was blessed. The mass was beautiful and I was in awe of the architecture and grandeur of the Basilica. I will never forget my choir teacher singing "Ave Maria" and sounding like an angel!
    What a coicidence now that I attend mass at St. Louis Catholic Church in Castroville, Texas. I am even sending my two sons to the Catholic school there. I plan to take them to the Basilica next summer on our trip up north.

    God Blessings upon all who read this!

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