THE BASILICA of Saint Louis, King of France, popularly called the Old Cathedral, is in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, and sits adjacent to the grounds of the Gateway Arch. This is one of the oldest churches in the region, was once the Cathedral church for half of the United States, the place of consecration of many of the nation's famed churchmen, a church honored by the Popes, and — before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council — was one of the most highly indulgenced churches in the world, having gained all of the privileges of all of the major basilicas of Rome.
But now it is shrouded in scaffolding, undergoing repairs coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the founding of the great City of Saint Louis, and the 800th anniversary of the birth of King Louis IX of France — monarch, crusader, and Saint.
On this blog, I often give distances to various churches — and the distance is measured from this church.
These photos were taken a bit more than a month ago, at the end of February 2014. This past weekend, while I was driving past this church, I noticed the gleaming new copper cladding on the steeple, as well as the brilliant shining ball and cross which surmounts it!
For the safety of parishioners and visitors, the entrance is carefully sheltered from the construction work going on above.
Last renovated in the early 1960s, the basilica still retained a certain classical elegance (and this church is extremely popular with brides), although it was becoming rather dingy, with faded carpeting, rough pews, and peeling paint. It was clear that some work needed to be done on this church, one of the most-visited in the Archdiocese — this in part because it is adjacent to one of the world's most popular tourist attractions.
From what I can tell, the interior isn't going to be changed much in form, while some of the coloring will be made a bit brighter. According to the church's website, interior repairs include:
Further information on the restoration can be found at: http://www.oldcathedralstl.org/campaign-donations.html
- Renovations to the church’s vestibule
- Remove all carpeting in the church
- Refinish the church’s wood floors, pews, confessionals and communion railing
- Clean, repair and restore the mosaic floors of the Sanctuary
- Restore decorative millwork and statuary throughout
- Plaster repairs, patch and paint walls, ceiling and altars
- Updates and repairs to decorative items including the side and rear altars, the baptistery and devotional spaces
- New sound system
- New lighting throughout the church with special consideration given to artwork and the ceiling
- Upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems
- New pulpit and altar furniture
The communion rail, stripped of its paint.
One of the holy water fonts, located near the entrance. Workers, having stripped off paint and plaster, have revealed an older design, unseen in ages.
A closer look at the once-hidden ornament — fleur-de-lys and quatrefoils, both associated with France and the Catholic faith. I have no idea how old these might be.
A door to a confessional and pedestal to a statue sit unused, temporarily. Soon the glories of this church will be renewed.
I donated some of my photography of this church for a fundraising booklet for the restoration, and some of that photography can be found in these articles: