Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Charleston, South Carolina)

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Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist
The Cathedral
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Charleston, South Carolina) is located in South Carolina
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Charleston, South Carolina)
32°46′35.4″N 79°56′4.2″W / 32.776500°N 79.934500°W / 32.776500; -79.934500
Location 120 Broad Street
Charleston, South Carolina
Country United States
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Founded 1800
Architect(s) Patrick C. Keely
Ruben Solar (belfry & spire)
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1890
Completed 1907 (Spire-2010)
Capacity upper church-720
lower church-200
Length 200 ft (61 m)
Width 80 ft (24 m)
Number of spires One
Spire height 167 ft (51 m)
Materials Connecticut tool-chiseled brownstone
Bells Three
Diocese Charleston
Bishop(s) Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone
Rector Msgr. Steven L. Brovey

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina. The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, D.D., the thirteenth Bishop of Charleston, was ordained and installed on March 25, 2009.


Cathedral interior in 1914

The first brownstone cathedral was built in 1854 and named the Cathedral of Saint John and Saint Finbar. It burned down in a great fire in December 1861. After being rebuilt it was renamed the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It is actually built on the foundation of the previous cathedral. Architect Patrick Keely designed both the original cathedral and its replacement.[1]

The Cathedral seats 720 people and is noted for its Franz Mayer & Co. stained glass, hand painted Stations of the Cross, and neo-gothic architecture. The cornerstone was laid in 1890, and the church opened in 1907. The spire was not built at the time due to the lack of funds during the construction of the cathedral and its numerous renovations. The church was finally completed on March 25, 2010 with the addition of the steeple with bells.[2]

Cathedral Clergy[edit]


For earlier bishops see List of Bishops of Charleston.

Rectors of the Cathedral[edit]

  • Reverend Monsignor Budds
  • Reverend Father Charles Rowland
  • Reverend Monsignor Samuel Miglarese (unknown-1997)
  • Reverend Monsignor Chester M. Moczydlowski (1998–2002)
  • Reverend Monsignor Joseph R. Roth, P.A. (2002–2007)
  • Reverend Father Gregory B. Wilson (2007–2011)
  • Reverend Monsignor Steven L. Brovey (2011–present)


  • Reverend Father Richard Jackson, Parochial Vicar
  • Reverend Father Robert Higgins, In Residence

Adjunct Priests[edit]

  • Reverend Monsignor Thomas X. Hoffman, J.C.L., Adjutant Judicial Vicar
  • Reverend Father John H. Dux, C.H.C., C.D.R. U.S.N. (Retired)

100th Anniversary Renovations[edit]

In 2007 former Bishop of Charleston the Most Rev.Robert J. Baker,D.D., S.T.D. & the former Cathedral Rector Rev. Msgr. Joseph Roth, P.A. announced plans to renovate and complete the cathedral nearly one-hundred years after it opened. The stained-glass windows were refurbished in December 2007. The brownstone has been refurbished, the mortar has been replaced and, after 103 years of waiting, a spire with 3 bells now tops the Cathedral. A $6.2 million contract for restoration and the steeple addition was completed on March 25, 2010.[2]


  • Sacred Heart - The chapel is situated just to the left of the cathedra. It originally served as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, reflecting the fact that in certain Masses prior to 1968, when the bishop had to sit in front of the altar, the Blessed Sacrament would be removed to this altar so that he would not have his back to the reserved Sacrament. In 2008 it briefly became the Chapel of Saint Paul for the Year of Saint Paul. Then in 2009, it became the Sacred Heart Chapel, housing a lovely early 1900s statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with hands extended in blessing.
  • Blessed Virgin Mary - The altar in this chapel is adorned with an Italian Marble statue of the Madonna and Child, sculpted by the German artist Ferdinand Pettrich. The statue is considered unique as it depicts Mary without a head covering, holding the child Jesus as a toddler. It is sometimes referred to as Our Lady of the South or Our Lady of the Confederacy (though not officially) having been purchased by Bishop Lynch, the Confederate Ambassador to the Holy See and third Bishop of Charleston.
  • Our Lady of Grace - The main lower chapel used for daily Masses.
  • Crypt Chapel - The resting place of the first five bishops of Charleston and Joanna Monica England, sister of the First Bishop of Charleston John England. The bishops vest here for Holy Mass. In this chapel is a niche holding a statue of St. Joseph and the child Jesus.
Cathedral without a steeple as it stood for nearly one hundred years

Spire & Belltower[edit]

The Cathedral with its new spire is the seventh tallest building in the city.[citation needed] The spire is covered in copper lattice and is topped with a 16x9 foot gilded copper Celtic cross. The arches below were fabricated from a special fiberglass used in ship building, which was then clad in copper. The arches are decorated by brown cast stone pinnacles on each corner. The belfry section is also constructed of brown cast stone. It has copper louvers. The new spire was designed by Glenn Keyes Architects using a sketch of the steeple from the original 1851 building.[1]


Cathedral interior in 2015.

The bells were placed in the Cathedral tower on November 16, 2009. Together the three bronze bells form an E major chord. These bells were cast by Christoph Paccard Bell Foundries in France. They were blessed by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on October 15, 2009.

  • Saint Therese
    • Note:B-3
    • Inscription: Revelation 5:12
  • Saint Finbar
    • Note:G#-3
    • Inscription: Psalm 104:33
  • Maria Stella Maris (Latin:Mary, Star of the Sea)
    • Note:E-3
    • Inscription: Psalm 95:1


Upper Church[edit]

The Cathedral is noted for its Franz Mayer & Co. stained-glass windows. It has a couple of one-of-a-kind windows.

The return of the prodigal son is one of the many beautiful windows of the Cathedral.
The Mayer Company's creation of stained and painted glass was at its height of production and artistry when the Cathedral's windows were installed in 1907.
  • The three sets of doors are all surmounted by rose windows that are of a unique design (the design is only known to be used by Patrick Keely). Each window has a coat of arms in its center.
    • The Main Doors - Bishop Northop's Coat of arms
    • The East Doors - the State of South Carolina's Coat of arms
    • The West Doors - Pope Saint Pius X's Coat of arms
  • The large Life of Christ windows adorn the sides of the lower nave.
  • The windows in the upper nave are known as the Gallery of the Saints. They depict 28 saints.
  • The sides of the Sanctuary are adorned with windows depicting the 4 Gospel writers with their winged creatures. Above the High Altar is the Chancel window. The top section is a rose window depicting St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus with the Holy Spirit above. It is surrounded by 8 adoring angels playing instruments. Above the Rose window is a Sacred Heart. To the left of the Rose window is a pelican feeding her three newborn pelicans, and to the right is the Lamb of God. Below all of this is a 5-light replica of Da Vinci's Last Supper.
  • The Sacred Heart Chapel is adorned with 7 windows depicting symbols related to the Eucharist. This reflects the fact that, in some Masses prior to 1968, when the liturgy required the Bishop to sit in front of the altar, the Blessed Sacrament was removed from the high altar and reserved in this chapel. This chapel has one floral designed window that can partially be seen because it is behind the altar.
  • The Madonna & Child Chapel is adorned with 7 windows depicting symbols related to Mary, Mother of God. This chapel has one floral designed window that is completely covered by the altar.

Lower Church[edit]

  • The Chapel of Our Lady of Grace is adorned on one side with eigh stained-glass windows removed from the former Immaculate Conception Church in Charleston. It originally had 20 windows from the church, but 12 were removed for various reasons over the years.
  • The Crypt Chapel is adorned with windows made from pieces of 4 of the 12 windows that were removed from the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace.

Cathedral Music[edit]


Director of Music[edit]

  • Director of Music and Organist (1950–1991): Virginia Sturken
  • Director of Music (1991–2000): Bill Schlitt
  • Director of Music and Principal Organist (2000–2009): Mark Thomas
  • Organist and Choirmaster (May 2010-date): Scott Turkington


  • The Cathedral Choir - principal choir


Pipe organ in the rear gallery
  • The Upper Church Organ is a Bedient Pipe Organ, Opus 22, mechanical action instrument. It was originally installed in Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, Louisville, Kentucky (built 1986). It was reinstalled in 1995 in Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Charleston, South Carolina.
  • The Chapel of Our Lady of Grace has a Vocalion Reed Organ that is not in working order.
  • The Cathedral also has a small portable pipe organ with wheels.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ruehling, Nancy A. (June 2011). "A Storied Steeple". Traditional Building (Restore Media, LLC) 24 (4). Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Bergeron, Angelle (September–October 2011). "Centennial Completion". Constructor (Arlington, VA: McGraw-Hill Construction for Associated General Contractors of America) 93 (5): 15–16. ISSN 0162-6191. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 

External links[edit]