hile walking the hilly Marquette streets on a sunny day, it's impossible, even from a distance, not to pause and think about St. Peter Cathedral; your eye will automatically be drawn to the cathedral's twin steeple domes. Capped in a pattern of red, blue, and orange, and topped by twin gold-leaf crosses, the domes catch and reflect the sun. Between the towers, the peaked roof of the church is edged with copper and is topped by a steel cross.
While the upper portion of the steeples is formed from brownstone, the base of the steeples, like the rest of the exteriorwalls, is made of native Marquette sandstone. These sandstone walls, which have stood since the 1881 construction, are typical of Romanesque architecture. Because of its large windows, the cathedral seems a collage of Romanesque and Gothic styles.
When the Cathedral was refurbished in 1947, the mural behind and above the altar was created. The latest renovation was completed in 1981 at a cost of $300,000 to accommodate the liturgical changes implemented by the Vatican II Council. This renovation was instituted by Bishop Mark Schmitt, the tenth Bishop of the Diocese, and overseen by the Rector of the Cathedral, Father Louis Cappo.
Visitors to the cathedral are first greeted by the two statues and the carvings above the three oak entrance doors on Baraga Avenue. They are most easily appreciated if you stand at the base of the steps to view them. The statues are of two apostles, St. Peter, on the left, and St. Paul, on the right. The diocesan coat of arms, with angels on each side, is beneath these statues. Just above the doors: the anchor on the left represents hope, the cross and the crown in the center remind us of faith, and the heart to the right testifies to love.
On the corner of the building to the left of the doors, the original cornerstone, dated 1881, shows the coat of arms of Bishop Baraga (1797-1868).
Upon entering the outside doors you might want to pause in the foyer to take a minute to look up the stairs to the left, which lead to the choir loft. There a replica of St. Peter Cathedral, held by a guardian angel, is featured in a stained glass window. To the right of the foyer is the priest's sacristy, where vesting is done prior to liturgical celebrations.
The word "foyer" comes from the Latin focus, which means hearth. It is fitting to pass through such a place; brass rails, sculpted plaster with gilt, and oak doors lead the way in to the main church.
Every year a multitude of women, men, and children pass through the large oak doors to experience St. Peter Cathedral, which is the seat of the Diocese of Marquette. Christians and non-Christians alike are drawn to the peaceful atmosphere and the impressive architecture. People have said that a visit to the cathedral can bring a feeling of comfort and protection.
As you open the door to the main church your eye will be drawn forward and upward. The ceiling, which is 67 feet above the floor, is supported by 24 Romanesque pillars. They are faced with red Scagiola marble, a mixture of marble powder and a plaster-like substance. Following the 1935 fire, which destroyed the entire roof and complete interior of this church, four additional square pillars were added during rebuilding to support a roof of such great height. Faced with polished Mankato stone, these pillars match the interior walls.
While you walk up the center aisle, notice the red natural clay floor tiles; many of them have been inscribed with the Chi Rho, the Greek letters signifying the name of Jesus Christ. Other symbols include the Passion Cross with four nails, five-pointed Epiphany Stars, and the Patee Cross with circles which symbolize eternal life.
f you looked at the cathedral from the air, the building suggests the shape of a cross. The transept, where the short arm of the cross intersects with the longer section, is marked on both ends by large detailed stained-glass windows. Together the windows include the Apostles and their symbols. Flanking the windows on both sides are windows honoring the four gospel writers and four sacraments.
The west transept window, to your right, is the Mother, Queen of Heaven window, featuring Mary, angels, cherubs, and the symbols of Mary: the gate of heaven, a star and crescent, fleur de lis, the pierced heart, lilies, bee hives, and books. Below these, are six of the Apostles: Thomas, Matthew, James the Greater, Jude, Simon, and Matthias. At the bottom, more symbols of Mary include a fountain, the Ave Maria, and an anchor.
The smaller window to the left honors St. Luke. The ox at the top is sometimes explained by reference to temple sacrifice at the beginning of his gospel. In the middle he holds an ax. The lower panel shows the sacrament of marriage. It's interesting to note that women figure more prominently in Luke's gospel than in any of the others gospels.
To the right of the large window, St. John is represented by an eagle. In the middle the evangelist holds a chalice and host. The Sacrament of the Sick is represented at the bottom.
The east transept window, on the left side of the church, is the Christ the King window. In the uppermost center, Christ the King is surrounded by angels, cherubs, and symbols of Christ: the Alpha and Omega, Chi Rho, X.P. and I.H.c. Six Apostles include James the Less, Peter, John, Andrew, Bartholemew and Philip. Below these, the chalice and host, a windmill, a fish the Agnus Dei (Paschal Lamb), and the baptismal font symbolize Christ.
St. Matthew, to the left of the large window, is represented by an angel with wings, which guided his hand as he wrote. He holds a quill and book in the middle, and the Sacrament of Baptism is represented at the bottom.
To the right of the large window, a lion stands for St. Mark. In the middle, he holds a tree. At the bottom is depicted the Sacrament of Confirmation.
he north transept is a good spot from which to view the choir loft windows, which feature the musical saints. At twelve 0' clock is St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians since the sixteenth century. King David, at three o'clock, we're reminded, played the lyre as he watched his father's sheep. The saint at six o'clock is St. Gregory. At nine o'clock is St. Ambrose, who composed hymns, taught people to sing them, and is credited with the Ambrosian chant. The saints are surrounded by five adoring angels carrying a trumpet, cymbal, bells, a drum, and a triangle. At the bottom of the window, note the symbols of Christ.
As you turn around to face the front of the church again, you see the large arch on which appears to connect the statues of St. Joseph, on the right, and the Virgin Mary, on the left. At the top and center of the arch is the Chi Rho, which is a symbol of Christ; a triangle, which represents the Holy Trinity; and the alpha and omega, which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and depict the everlasting nature of Christ's divinity. At the right top corner of the arch is a J overlaid by an S which represents St. Joseph. The hammer reminds us that he was a carpenter and the lily is a symbol of purity. The VM combination at the left top corner of the arch is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The fleur de lis lily is representative of Mary's purity. The right descending portion of the arch reveals the symbols of St. Mark, a winged lion, and St. John, an eagle. The left descending portion of the arch reveals the symbols of St. Matthew, a winged angel, and St. Luke, a winged ox.
Like the statues in the side aisles the statues of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary are executed in solid, natural colored marble. The pieces, although untouched by stains or artificial tints, are in the saints' traditional colors and were acquired in many lands. Each of these marble pieces was carved separately, then fitted together, so that no joints are seen.
St. Peter Cathedral is the mother church of the diocese. It is called a cathedral because it is the site of the bishop's chair, the "Cathedra," which is in the sanctuary behind the altar. Originally commissioned by Bishop Plagens, who was in residence during the 1935 reconstruction, this chair is the bishop's seat when he presides at any liturgical celebration in this church. The coat of arms of Bishop James Garland, our present bishop, is placed on the upper portion of the back of the "Cathedra," which represents his authority as the leader of our diocese.
A high altar used to be where the bishop's chair is now located, but it was partially dismantled during the 1981 remodeling. Because of changes in liturgy, the priest now faces the people and worships in and with the community. To the right of the altar, the baptistry rests on six marble supports which were made from the dismantled high altar.
Off to the right, in the recess of the wall, are kept the Holy Oils used in various Catholic ceremonies and institution of the sacraments. These Holy Oils are: Oil of Catechumens, Sacred Chrism, and Oil of the Sick.
s you walk toward the repository of the sacred oils, you will also notice fourteen mosaics displayed along the left and right walls. Made of Venetian marble, they depict the Stations of the Cross, which represent the Passion and Death of Our Lord.
To the right, the designs in the stained glass windows depict the mysteries of the rosary, which are aspects of the life of Christ. The top panels represent the Glorious Mysteries, the middle panels depict the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the lower panels contain the Joyful Mysteries.
The first window: The Resurrection is at the top, the Agony in the Garden is in the middle, and the Annunciation is at the bottom.
The second window: The Ascension is at the top, the Scourging at the Pillar is in the middle, and the Visitation is at the bottom.
Between the second and third windows is the Shrine of St. Anne, the Mother of Mary. Devotion to St. Anne grew in the 14th century. Stories recount how St. Anne was visited by an angel to be told of the birth of Mary and the part she would play in the history of salvation.
The third window: The Descent of the Holy Spirit is at the top, the crowning with Thorns is in the middle, and the Nativity is at the bottom.
The fourth window: The Assumption is at the top, Jesus Carrying the Cross is in the middle, and the Presentation is at the bottom.
The fifth window: The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is at the top, the Crucifixion is in the middle, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple is featured at the bottom.
The "little extras" in these windows are symbols from Christian antiquity.
Above the center entrance door is the coat of arms of our present Pope, John Paul II, with the crossed keys representing St. Peter our first Pope. Above the left door is the coat of arms of Bishop Frederic Baraga, our first bishop, and above the right door is the coat of arms of our current bishop, the Most Reverend James H. Garland.
Continue along the back of the church to see the stained glass windows on the opposite wall. These depict some of the saints, scenes from the Life of Christ, and other ceremonial occurrences of the Catholic faith.
The first window, near the back of the church: St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus is at the top, the betrothal of Mary and Joseph is in the middle, and the Holy Family is at the bottom.
The second window: St. Remigius, (also known as St. Remi), Apostle of the Franks, is at the top, St. Remigius baptizing King Clovis is in the middle, and St. Remigius with St. Clotildis, wife of King Clovis, laying the foundation of a church is at the bottom.
The third window: St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland is at the top, St. Patrick ridding Ireland of snakes is in the middle, and St. Patrick and two kings is at the bottom.
Between the third and fourth windows stands the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, which represents Jesus giving His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Christ's heart shed the blood given for the salvation of all people, no matter who they are or where they might be.
The fourth window: St. Stanislaus Kostka, lesser patron saint of Poland, is at the top, the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child to St. Stanislaus is in the middle, and St. Stanislaus receiving the Holy Eucharist from an angel is at the bottom.
The fifth window: St. John the Baptist holding the lamb of God is at the top, St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus is in the middle, and St. John the Baptist preaching in the desert is at the bottom.
s you continue to look toward the front, your eye is drawn to the mural at the back of the sanctuary. In the center, Jesus Christ offers the keys of heaven to St. Peter. The crossed keys each contain a symbol. One key has a cross and the other key has a three-pronged staff. The keys entrust a specific authority to St. Peter: "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:18-19
This rich mural is in the Byzantine style of an icon. Icons were used by worshippers to represent saints before the appearance of statues. This important mural is gilt with gold foil.
The other apostles below the figures of Christ and St. Peter, from left to right are:
JAMES THE LESS is holding a Bible and a club, which was the instrument of his death.
SIMON holds a saw called a falchion. According to legend, heathen priests hewed Simon to death with such a saw.
JAMES THE GREATER, like his brother John, has been described by the word Boanerges, which means "sons of thunder," indicating fiery tempers. James was the first Apostle to die for the Christian faith, having been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa. The pilgrim saint of soldiers, laborers, and pharmacists, he carries a wallet hanging on a staff.
ANDREW, a fisherman, was also a disciple of John the Baptist. The saltire cross, commonly called St. Andrew's Cross, represents Scotland on the Union Jack. It became associated with St. Andrew in the 10th century at Autun.
Before Christ called him, MATTHEW was a tax collector for the Romans. The writer of the gospel which most emphasizes the human family ties of Christ, Matthew holds his book and a money bag, in memory of his former profession.
PAUL, referred to as The Apostle to the Gentiles, is not one of the original twelve Apostles. In many of the artistic renditions of the Apostles, Paul takes the place of St. Matthias who replaced Judas. In this mural, Paul is holding a sword and a scroll containing his symbolic phrase, "Spiritus GIadius," which means "Sword of the Spirit."
JOHN wrote the fourth gospel and the Book of Revelation. He holds his book and chalice with a viper in it, which commemorates an event at Ephesus: a high priest of Diana challenged him to drink a cup of poison.
PHILLIP, an early disciple of Jesus, carries a cross, on which he is believed to have suffered.
The patron saint of tanners, BARTHOLOMEW carries a flaying knife, the instrument which is associated with his own death.
Called Didymus, the twin, THOMAS is remembered as the apostle who refused to believe in the Resurrection unless he touched the wounds of the Risen Christ. Legend says he built a temple in India. Thus, he is the patron saint of architects and carries a builder's T -square.
JUDE, also identified as Thaddaeus, is often considered the "patron of hopeless cases." It is said that people at one time hesitated to invoke him because his name so closely resembles that of Judas, who betrayed the Lord. The halberd is regarded as the instrument of his martyrdom.
The Apostle MATTHIAS is not depicted in this mural. He was chosen by lot to replace Judas, who committed suicide after his betrayal of Christ This is the only time that his name is mentioned in the Bible. Matthias was persecuted for his faith, eventually crucified, and then hacked to death with an ax.
reviously named the Bishop's Chapel, it was retitled The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament after the 1981 renovation, as the Holy Eucharist is continually reposed in its sanctuary. This is a place of reverence and worship, as the Sacred Body of Christ is continually exposed, and, therefore, perpetually adored. Please observe quiet and respect.
As you proceed through the doors to the entrance of the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, directly in front of you is the Shrine of the Little Flower. The pedestal is richly carved red brocato marble and Italian brown onyx. The cloak of St. Theresa is of ivory-colored tranny marble, the tunicle of brown Italian onyx, the cross and veil of Belgian black marble, and the flesh portions are made of onyx from Portugal. All of the marble and mosaic pieces in the church were done by Giuseppe Tommasi Studios in Carrara, Italy.
The stained glass windows in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament represent six bishops of the Catholic Church. On the left we have St. Martin, St. Francis De Sales, and St. John Chrysostom. The windows to the right depict St. Stanislaus, St. Alphonsus, and St. Augustine.
Notice the Pewabic tile on the steps at the front of the chapel. On your right is a statue of St. Anthony of Padua. To the left stands a marble shrine with an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It is believed that St. Luke, physician and evangelist, painted the original from which this icon is made.
The Venetian mosaic above the tabernacle is of Christ the King. Two children sit at His feet, and He is surrounded by six cherubim. On the walls to each side of this mosaic are six angels, three on each side, bearing shields with symbols of Our Lord's Passion. The mural on the back wall represents the Paschal Lamb of God above which is the Holy Spirit represented by a dove.
The pictures on the side and back walls are of the bishops that have served the Diocese of Marquette. In order they are: Frederic Baraga, Ignatius Mrak, John Vertin, Frederick Eis, Paul Nussbaum, Joseph Plagens, Francis Magner, Thomas L. Noa, Charles A. Salatka, Mark Schmitt and James Garland.
ou may proceed downstairs to view the burial vaults of Bishop Baraga and Bishops Mrak, Vertin, Eis, Magner, and Noa. You will find prayer cards to Bishop Baraga, as well as a place to kneel and pray for the Lord's help through the intercession of Bishop Baraga. His Cause for Canonization is currently being processed and presented to the Congregation of Saints in Rome.
With this invitation for private prayer, we conclude our tour of the cathedral. You may feel free to browse and further enjoy the beauty and splendor of the cathedral.