In 1841 as Father Lucien Galtier’s pioneer parishioners installed a 3-foot cross on the roof of the new log chapel they named “St. Paul,” the young French priest also planted a seed of faith, which during the next 175 years would grow into the largest of plants: the parish of the Cathedral of St. Paul.
The chapel, located on the Mississippi river bluff in what is now downtown St. Paul, fostered the Catholic faith and also served as a catalyst for the capital city of the same name to develop around it. The story of the faithful who populated the new chapel, diocese and city of St. Paul inspires present-day Catholics and residents of the city, which narrowly escaped being named Pig’s Eye.
“It was the beginning of the city of St. Paul,” said Mark Labine, president of the Arden Hills-based French-American Heritage Foundation of Minnesota and author of, “In the beginning, there was a Chapel.” “The city grew up around the chapel. …They built this little log chapel, and it became a cathedral and a school and a hospital, and the name of the city and the name of the capital of Minnesota.”