Statue of John Paul II at the cathedral, where he held mass in 1993
Construction of the cathedral started in 1902 and was completed in 1911 with a final cost of approximately $500,000. Its inaugural Mass was held on October 27, 1912, and consecration in 1921. The cathedral was raised to the status of minor basilica on Christmas of 1979 - one of only 29 American cathedrals with that title. On August 13 and 14 1993 (for World Youth Day), Pope John Paul II held mass at the cathedral- one of only a few cathedrals in the United States so honored. The church's spires were struck by lightning in 1912 and 1997, both times resulting in damage.