Cathedral of Saint Helena

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Cathedral of Saint Helena
Helena Cathedral.jpg
Location 530 N. Ewing St.
Helena, MT
Coordinates 46°35′24.53″N 112°1′57.15″W / 46.5901472°N 112.0325417°W / 46.5901472; -112.0325417Coordinates: 46°35′24.53″N 112°1′57.15″W / 46.5901472°N 112.0325417°W / 46.5901472; -112.0325417
Built 1908
Architect A. O. Von Herbulis (Albert Olszewski)
Architectural style Gothic Revival, Other
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 80004270 [1]
Added to NRHP April 30, 1980

The Cathedral of Saint Helena is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, Montana.


The site for the cathedral was purchased in 1905. A. O. Von Herbulis of Washington, D.C., was commissioned as the architect. Von Herbulis was trained abroad and was chosen for his knowledge of the cathedrals of Europe. Rough sketches were prepared in two styles, Romanesque and Gothic. When the drawings were presented, the Building Committee chose the Gothic form; a motion to authorize that design passed unanimously. Von Herbulis was studying in Vienna, Austria, when the Votive Church was built there. He modelled the Cathedral after the Votivkirche.[2]

The Columbia Construction Company of New York began construction of the Cathedral in 1908; the cornerstone was laid on October 4 that year. On November 8, 1914, the Catholic community of Helena gathered to celebrate Mass for the first time in the new church. The first funeral held in the Cathedral was that of Thomas Cruse, a benefactor, December 26, 1914. The Cathedral was not completed for another 10 years. In June 1924, the Cathedral was consecrated.

The stained glass windows for the Cathedral were made and installed by the F.X. Zettler Firm of Munich, Bavaria. By the time the Cathedral was dedicated, 46 of the planned 59 windows had been installed. The Zettler Firm claimed that the 37-window set, which told the Christian story from the fall of Adam and Eve to the Church in the early years of the 20th century, surpassed any windows which it had made during its first 50 years. The remaining windows in the clerestory level were installed by 1926.


In the fall of 1935, a series of earthquakes struck the State of Montana. The Cathedral suffered damage: the south tower was almost completely destroyed. The tower was reconstructed and reinforced to prevent future calamity. The reconstruction was completed by 1938.

The interior of the Cathedral remained unchanged from its dedication until the mid-1950s. Under the direction of Bishop Joseph M. Gilmore, the bronze altar canopy was installed. The grillwork behind the altar and the gilding of the interior were also added. The restoration was completed in April 1959 in time for the Golden Jubilee of the Cathedral and the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Diocese of Helena.

The Cathedral was renovated in 1982-1983 under the direction of Bishop Elden F. Curtiss. This renovation addressed the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. Extensive repairs to the stained glass windows were also undertaken by the late Fr. Daniel Hillen.

In 1999-2000 repairs to the interior columns were completed. The columns had been damaged in the Montana Rail Link train crash of February 1989.

The most recent renovation of the Cathedral, begun in 2002 under the direction of Bishop Robert C. Morlino, continues under Bishop George Leo Thomas. Both the upper and lower levels of the Cathedral were renovated. The lower level was completely remodeled to include two new social halls and a complete kitchen. The lower level was named in honor of the first bishop of Helena, John B. Brondel. The upper-level renovation included the sanctuary, Saint Joseph's Chapel, new baptistry, and the installation of the elevator in the north transept for improved access between levels.

Physical plant enhancements include a new heating system, a renovated chime system, a renovated and enhanced pipe organ, the restoration of the stained glass and re-covering of their exterior surfaces, the installation of a new sound system, the construction of a new confessional, the removal of the old St. Helena Grade School, the construction and landscaping of a new main parking lot, and the exterior upgrade to the Faith Formation/Office building.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ [1]

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