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Cathedral of Saint Paul opens new museum exhibit Immigrants and the Cathedral: I was a stranger and you welcomed me

By Quinn Cheney in News on 10/29/2019

The Cathedral of Saint Paul debuts a new exhibit dedicated to the lasting and ongoing importance of immigrants to the church and community at large. Titled Immigrants and the Cathedral: I was a stranger and you welcomed me, the exhibit is now open to the public in the Cathedral’s lower level museum, 239 Selby Ave., Saint Paul, Minnesota. Street parking is widely available as well as free parking in the church parking lot. Handicapped entrances are at the upper Selby doors, and lower Dayton doors. For more details, call the Cathedral Information Desk at 651-228-1766.

Highlighting the important role immigrants played in constructing and supporting the Cathedral was a natural fit for the museum, according to Marilyn Burnett, University of St. Thomas art history graduate student and exhibit curator. “More than a century ago, Archbishop John Ireland pledged to have the Cathedral represent the population it served. He designed six chapels, known as the Shrines of Nations, which represented the key immigrant groups settling Minnesota in the early 1900s. Each chapel represented patron saints for each of the chosen countries as a place for immigrants to feel connected to their homeland (Italian, French Canadian, Irish, German and Eastern Europeans). The sixth chapel is dedicated to the multiplicity of other cultures and nationalities that also contributed to the Cathedral.” On average, 1 in 6 individuals born in Minnesota have at least one foreign-born parent. The museum aims to connect visitors with their family legacy of immigration and displays the detailed planning early church leadership devoted to building individual chapels that would provide connections to the immigrants’ homelands. The new exhibit also includes the unique history and relationship the Cathedral has with the Catholic Hmong community in Saint Paul.

 

The Cathedral’s enduring legacy is to serve many cultures and ethnicity’s, as was the intention when it was constructed. Cathedral museum hours:

  • Every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Wednesday noon to 3:00 p.m.
  • Thursday noon to 2:30 p.m.
  • Friday noon to 3 p.m.

Museum tours geared towards students are available upon request by contacting tour_information@cathedralsaintpaul.org. The Cathedral Archive Department has also created classroom activities for grades 1-12 to accompany the immigrant exhibit and is available on the Cathedral Heritage Foundation website: (Field Trip Notes).

The Cathedral is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Visitors are welcome to join guided tours of the Cathedral, Tuesday—Friday at 1pm. Visitors may also take a private walking tour or a virtual tour at cathedralsaintpaul.org/visit-us. Cathedral of Saint Paul is located at 239 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Street parking is widely available as well as free parking in the Selby church lt. Handicapped entrances are at the Upper Selby doors, and lower Dayton doors. For more details, call the Cathedral Information Desk at 651-228-1766.

Immigrants and the Cathedral is made possible by a grant from the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.

The Cathedral Heritage Foundation is an independent volunteer 501 (c)3 community organization. Since its founding in 2007, the CHF’s stated mission has been “to preserve the Cathedral as an historic monument and a community treasure,” as well as to support the Cathedral as a venue for the arts and education.

 

Photo 1: A semi-circular ambulatory behind Cathedral Sanctuary connects the six unique chapels in the Shrines of Nations.

Photo 2: A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary dressed in traditional formal Hmong dress is on display in the Cathedral Museum, on loan from St. Vincent de Paul Campus of the Cathedral of Saint Paul.