Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Most Blessed Sacrament Parish was established in 1905 in what was, at the time, the northern edge of Detroit. The building was designed by Cleveland-based architect Henry A. Walsh according to the Norman Gothic style. Financial problems delayed construction until 1913 and it continued slowly. The exterior was built out of Ohio sandstone and Indiana limestone.

The original organ was donated by Frederick Fisher in 1925. The interior of the church was not finished until 1930 and the first Mass was held on Thanksgiving of that year. The exterior would not be finished for decades.

The Diocese of Detroit was elevated to an archdiocese in 1937. Most Blessed Sacrament replaced St. Patrick, seat of the diocese since 1877, as the cathedral.

Walsh was unable to finish the project so Detroit architect George Diehl oversaw the completion. The towers and spire were not finished until 1951, coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the city's founding.

Much of the statuary was created by local, prominent sculptor Corrado Parducci.

Pope St. John Paul II visited the U.S. in 1987 and Cardinal Archbishop Edmund Szoka convinced him to come to Detroit. The pope addressed a group at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on September 18 of that year and stayed overnight at the archbishop's residence next door. See video below with Cathedral section starting at 2:21.

The cathedral was renovated in 2001 by local architect Gunnar Birkerts. Changes included a plaza on the north side of the building, a reconfigured sanctuary, new light fixtures, as well as a new cathedra, baptismal font and organ. At that time, the tabernacle was moved to the south transept and a chapel built around it.

The cathedra used by Pope St. John Paul II, along with other artifacts, on display in a breezeway along the south side.

A large plaque in the sacristy shows the vesting prayers traditionally said by clergy in preparation for Mass. Each prayer corresponds to a particular vestment (amice, alb, cincture, maniple, stole and chasuble).

As we covered in a previous post, there is a tradition of hanging a cardinal's galero from the cathedral ceiling after his death. Galeros from Cardinal Mooney and Cardinal Dearden hang above each transept. This tradition has fallen from practice and was not done following the death of Cardinal Szoka.

A bust of the retired Cardinal Archbishop Adam Maida in the narthex; St. Anne and Child Mary.

The large, ornate rose window above the choir loft; detail of a window in the lower-level of the nave


Large, colorful windows line the clerestory. Each features a gospel reference in the middle of the window and images of saints in the bottom.

Inscriptions in the sides of the columns along the side aisles.

The Cathedral is located at 9844 Woodward, just south of Highland Park and near the geographic center of Detroit.

Daily Mass is held at 8:00am in the chapel on Mondays and Thursday-Saturday. Sunday Mass is at 11:00am while confessions are heard on Saturdays at 2:30pm.

Rev. Gregory Deters is Associate Pastor and Msgr. Michael LeFevre is the current rector. However, LeFevre will soon move to St. John Fisher in Auburn Hills and replaced by Rev. J.J. Mech, presently at St. Anastasia in Troy.

For more photos: Flickr & AOD Film Services
For more about JP2's visit: The Michigan Catholic
For more info about the parish: bulletin archive & parish website

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