Skip to comments.At St. Patrick’s (Cathedral in NY), a Cornerstone That Has Long Eluded Searchers
Posted on 10/14/2011 8:00:30 AM PDT by NYer
Much is known about the cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As the Archdiocese of New York embarks on a five-year, $175 million renovation of what has been described as the nation’s largest Roman Catholic Gothic sanctuary, architects and historians have meticulously reviewed every detail of James Renwick Jr.’s original blueprints.
They have learned that the cornerstone was hand-cut by Cormack McCall, a 22-year-old Irish immigrant. It was laid on Sunday, Aug. 15, 1858, the Feast of the Assumption, by John Hughes, New York’s first archbishop. Two hundred priests and 100 choirboys marched in the formal procession. The throng of onlookers was so thick — 100,000 strong, by one estimate — that all the city’s streetcars were diverted north to accommodate the crowd. Downtown Manhattan was described as “depleted.”
The stone was left open for offerings from the public. It was sealed exactly two years later, on Aug. 15, 1860.
Much has been learned about the cornerstone, except for two salient details: Where it is and when it went missing.
“It’s the great mystery of the cathedral,” said Msgr. Robert T. Ritchie, St. Patrick’s rector.
The cathedral was conceived by Archbishop Hughes, who presciently anticipated the development of Midtown Manhattan, as more than merely a replacement for the old St. Patrick’s downtown on Mott Street. In “The History of the Archdiocese of New York,” Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley wrote that the new cathedral was “meant to be a statement in stone of the Catholic presence in a city that was then the capital of Protestant America.”
Many cornerstones are prominently marked with the date construction began. Some identify the builder or architect. Most are in plain sight, appropriately enough, at a corner of the building. Not so at St. Patrick’s.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Sounds like another quest for Benjamin Gates.
This is the original east wall of St. Patrick's Cathedral facing Madison Avenue now up on Hamilton Heights. The original altar had elaborate reredos to disguise it. I wonder if the cathedral's cornerstone was moved as well.
Fascinating. They moved the entire wall?! Do you know approximately when this was done and why?
The original east wall was removed in 1901 to make room for the present Lady Chapel and two apsidal chapels pictured here:
At that moment, a new parish was organized in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood and its first pastor was a long-time priest at St. Patrick's. He used the east wall of the cathedral and the facade of the National Academy of Design, pictured here:
which was being taken down as well, and cobbled together a church for less than building new.
Quite a resourceful guy.
I believe I recall reading somewhere about an Ascension.