Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Detroit, Michigan) - exterior.JPG
Woodward Avenue façade and rectory
42°23′19″N 83°05′06″W / 42.3885824°N 83.0850898°W / 42.3885824; -83.0850898Coordinates: 42°23′19″N 83°05′06″W / 42.3885824°N 83.0850898°W / 42.3885824; -83.0850898
Location 9844 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Country United States
Denomination Roman Catholic
Status Cathedral
(also a parish church)
Functional status Active
Heritage designation NRHP
Designated 1982
Architect(s) Henry A. Walsh, George F. Diehl
Style Decorated Gothic Revival
Archdiocese Detroit
Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron
Rector Rev. J.J. Mech
Director of music Joe Balistreri
Stephanie Nofar-Kelly
Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Built 1915
Architect Henry A. Walsh
George Diehl
MPS Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue TR
NRHP Reference # 82002894[1]
Added to NRHP August 3, 1982

The Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament is a decorated Gothic Revival style Roman Catholic cathedral church in the United States. It is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. The metropolitan archdiocese for the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Detroit includes all dioceses in the state of Michigan; in addition, in 2000 the archdiocese accepted pastoral responsibility[2] for the Roman Catholic Church in the Cayman Islands, which consists of Saint Ignatius Parish[3] on Grand Cayman (the Archdiocese of Kingston maintains a mission sui iuris jurisdiction over the Cayman Islands).[4] The cathedral is located at 9844 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, adjacent to Detroit's Boston-Edison Historic District. The cathedral was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[1]


Most Blessed Sacrament parish was established in 1905 in what was then the northern city limits of Detroit. The parish was initially plagued with financial problems. Construction of the church started in 1913, but proceeded rather slowly. The interior was finished in 1930, with the dedication of the interior on Thanksgiving of that year. Detroit was elevated to an archdiocese in 1937, and Most Blessed Sacrament was chosen to be the cathedral church replacing St. Patrick's which served as cathedral since 1877.[5][6] However, construction of the exterior, including the twin towers on the west facade and the flèche at the crossing, was not completed until 1951,[7] coinciding with the 250th anniversary of Detroit's founding. The consecration on November 17, 1951, was broadcast live on local television. Plans also called for spires topping the towers, however these remain unbuilt.[8] Starting in 1985, and lasting until the early 2000s, Gunnar Birkerts, a well-known local architect was commissioned to redesign the interior of the cathedral, as well as designing the furniture for the papal visit, some of which is still in existence at the cathedral.


Interior of the cathedral

The cathedral's architect was Henry A. Walsh of Cleveland, Ohio,[7] who designed the cathedral in a Norman Gothic style. Due to the length of the construction, Walsh was unable to see the project to completion, and Detroit architect George Diehl was chosen to succeed him for the construction of the towers in 1950. The building's exterior is made of Ohio sandstone, with Indiana limestone used for buttress facings, traceries, and doorways.[7] The cathedral includes external and internal statuary by sculptor Corrado Parducci.[9]

In 2001, Gunnar Birkerts was selected to update the cathedral. Changes included a plaza on the north side of the structure, reconfigured interior spaces, a new sanctuary, cathedra, baptismal font and organ. The original organ was installed the west gallery by Casavant Frères in 1925 as a gift from Frederick Fisher of Fisher Body. During the renovations, this three manual/55 rank instrument was updated and a second organ was installed in the apse.[10]

The new organ is opus 2785 of Austin Organs, Inc. with two manuals and 32 ranks and is connected to the gallery organ allowing them to be played as one instrument from the new console. The new organ was first played at the rededication ceremony March 25, 2003.[11]

Papal visit of 1987[edit]

Although Pope John Paul II's 1987 visit to the United States originally included only stops in the southern and western parts of the country, Detroit's cardinal archbishop, Edmund Szoka, campaigned for him to include the Detroit area. Szoka made a direct request to the Pope during a visit to Vatican City. The Pope arrived in Detroit on September 18, 1987, and spoke before large crowds in Hamtramck, Hart Plaza and the Pontiac Silverdome. During John Paul II's visit, he visited guests at the cathedral and lodged at the adjacent archbishop's residence.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "St. Ignatius Parish". Archdiocese of Detroit. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ "About the parish". Saint Ignatius Parish. July 17, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Mission "Sui Iuris" of Cayman Islands". January 5, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ Woodford, Frank B., & Woodford, Arthur M. (1969). All Our Yesterdays: A Brief History of Detroit, p. 153. Wayne State University Press.
  6. ^ "Chapel of St. Theresa, the Little Flower" (PDF). Detroit Planning and Development Department. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  7. ^ a b c Tutag, Nola Huse (1987). Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit, p. 43. Wayne State University Press.
  8. ^ Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  9. ^ Foot, Andrew (June 29, 2006).International Metropolis. Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrement. Diehl & Diehl Archives, photo inside Corrado Parducci's studio. Retrieved on July 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Transfiguration: An Architectural and Liturgical Narrative". Archdiocese of Detroit. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  11. ^ "Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrement". Detroit Chapter, American Guild of Organists. 2003. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  12. ^ Houston, Kay (September 1, 1999).When the Pope visited Detroit. The Detroit News. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Archdiocese of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-0797-0. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2004). Catholic Churches of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3235-5. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Make Straight the Path: A 300 Year Pilgrimage Archdiocese of Detroit. Editions du Signe. ISBN 2-7468-0145-0. 
  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Tentler, Leslie Woodcock with foreword by Cardinal Edmund Szoka (1992). Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2106-2. 
  • Tutag, Nola Huse with Lucy Hamilton (1988). Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1875-4. 

External links[edit]