Cathedral SS Peter & Paul

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The Cathedral SS Peter & Paul, or, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, is the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

History and Architecture

A cathedral church is the principal church of a diocese, because it is here that the bishop or ordinary of the diocese has his throne, or Cathedra. On the twenty-seventh day of September, 1976, in the fourteenth year of his Pontificate, Pope Paul VI, named and raised the Cathedral Church of Sts. Peter and Paul to the dignity and honor of a Basilica. The Apostolic See on fitting occasions expresses its grateful appreciation to the faithful for outstanding Catholic action rendered to the Church and the people of God. It was for such an occasion that our Holy Father rendered this great honor on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia after it hosted the 41st International Eucharistic Congress.

The Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, modeled after the Lombard Church of St. Charles (San Carlo al Corso) in Rome, is of the Roman-Corinthian style of architecture. The structure dates from 1846. Francis Patrick Kenrick, then Bishop of Philadelphia initiated the building venture. It was continued through the tenures of his successors, Saint John Neumann and Archbishop Wood, and completed in 1864.

The Church measures more than 250' in length, 136' in width, and 101'6"in height from the pavement to the apex of the pediment. The exterior of the building now weather-worn and pinkish in color, is of brownstone, which originally came from quarries of Connecticut and northern New Jersey. Like the green patina on the great copper dome, this coating on the stone, too, is a natural protection. The dome itself rises over 60'. The total height of the Cathedral is 209' to the top of the 11-foot gold cross. At their greatest diameters, the dome is 71', and the ball under the cross is 6'8". The most casual visitors to the city have been impressed by the great dome as the sign of this religious landmark among many civic ones on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

See Also