Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral
|Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral|
Façade of Proto-Cathedral, photographed 1934
|Architectural style||Greek Revival|
|Town or city||Bardstown, Kentucky|
|Country||United States of America|
|Client||Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||John Rogers of Baltimore.|
The Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral is a Catholic parish church at 310 West Stephen Foster Avenue in Bardstown, Kentucky. It is the former cathedral mother church of the former Roman Catholic Diocese of Bardstown. During its years as a cathedral, the pastor was Benedict Joseph Flaget, the first Bishop of Bardstown.
The cornerstone was laid on July 16, 1816, with construction beginning thereafter. Materials used for its construction were found in the immediate area. The architect and builder was John Rogers of Baltimore. By 1819 it was sufficiently completed for Mass to be held. The interior was fully complete by 1823. Many of the paintings and interior decorations were donated by Pope Leo XII, King Louis-Philippe of France and others. The gift from the King of France included paintings by Rubens, Murillo, Van Dyke and others. Gifts of royal embroidered vestments — the handwork of the queen and her court — and sacramental vessels were also made.
Paintings from King Louis
- The Crucifixion, Phillippe Van Bree 
- The Flaying of St. Bartholemew, Rubens
- Descent of the Holy Ghost, Van Eyck
- The Winged St. Mark, Van Dyck
- St. Peter in Chains, Van Dyck
- St. John the Baptist, Van Dyck
- The Coronation in Heaven of the Mother of God, Murillo
- The Annunciation, Van Eyck
- Teaching the Boys, artist unknown 
The proto-cathedral is the first Catholic Cathedral west of the Allegheny Mountains. On January 9, 1974, the proto-cathedral was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On June 3, 1976, the listing was expanded to include the adjacent Spalding Hall and Flaget Hall, originally St. Joseph College.
Over time, the location of the cornerstone was lost, until 1980 when it was uncovered during restoration of part of the building.
Diocese of Bardstown
The Diocese of Bardstown was erected into an Episcopal See April 8, 1808 by the Holy See. This diocese was the first inland diocese in the United States. The primal see or proto-Diocese of the United States, the Diocese of Baltimore, was subdivided into the dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown (Baltimore becoming the Archdiocese of Baltimore).
The See of the diocese of Bardstown was moved to Louisville in 1841, and St. Joseph's was replaced as Cathedral by St. Louis Church (now the Cathedral of the Assumption) on Fifth Street in Downtown Louisville. St. Joseph's therefore became the "proto" or first cathedral. The Diocese of Louisville was elevated to Archdiocese in 1939.
In 1995, the Holy See honored the proto-cathedral by naming retired Bishop Charles G. Maloney, the Titular Bishop of Bardstown. Maloney died on April 30, 2006. He was succeeded by Bishop Daniel E. Thomas on June 8, 2006.
- The Zanesville (Ohio) Times Recorder, May 14, 1939, page 7
- the Altoona Mirror, March 30, 1928, page 2.
- The Chicago Daily Herald, October 21, 1949, page 17
- The Brownsville (Texas) Herald, June 7, 1941, page 2
- The Kokomo (Indiana) Tribune, November 13, 1952, page 1
- The Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal, May 21, 1953
- Day, Teresa (Jan 30, 2005). Fun With the Family Kentucky: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips with the Kids. Globe Pequot. p. 38. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- The Casa Grande (Arizona) Dispatch, September 7, 2002, page 12
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