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Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Charleston, South Carolina) facts for kids

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Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Charleston SC.jpg
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Charleston
32°46′35.4″N 79°56′4.2″W / 32.776500°N 79.934500°W / 32.776500; -79.934500Coordinates: 32°46′35.4″N 79°56′4.2″W / 32.776500°N 79.934500°W / 32.776500; -79.934500
Location 120 Broad Street Charleston, South Carolina South Carolina
Country United States
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Founded 1800
Architect(s) Patrick C. Keely
Decimus C. Barbot
Ruben Solar (belfry & spire)
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1890
Completed 1907 (Spire-2010)
Capacity Upper church - 720
Lower church - 200
Length 200 ft (61 m)
Width 80 ft (24 m)
Number of spires One
Spire height 167 ft (51 m)
Materials Connecticut tool-chiseled brownstone
Bells Three
Diocese Charleston
Bishop(s) Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone
Rector Msgr. Steven L. Brovey

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina. Designed by Brooklyn architect Patrick Keely in the Gothic Revival style, it opened in 1907. The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, D.D., the thirteenth Bishop of Charleston, was ordained and installed on March 25, 2009.


Cathedral interior in 1914

The first brownstone cathedral was built in 1854 and named the Cathedral of Saint John and Saint Finbar. It burned in a great fire in December 1861. The rebuilt cathedral was named for St. John the Baptist and was constructed on the foundations of the earlier structure. Architect Patrick Keely designed both the original cathedral and its replacement.

The Cathedral seats 720 people and is noted for its Franz Mayer & Co. stained glass, hand–painted Stations of the Cross, and neo-gothic architecture. The cornerstone was laid in 1890, and the church opened in 1907. The spire was not built at the time due to the lack of funds during the construction of the cathedral and its numerous renovations. The church was finally completed on March 25, 2010, with the addition of the steeple and bells.

Cathedral Clergy


For earlier bishops see List of Bishops of Charleston.

  • The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, D.D., Bishop of Charleston

Rectors of the Cathedral

  • Reverend Monsignor Budds
  • Reverend Father Charles Rowland
  • Reverend Monsignor Samuel Miglarese (unknown-1998)
  • Reverend Monsignor Chester M. Moczydlowski (1998–2001)
  • Reverend Monsignor Joseph R. Roth, P.A. (2001-2008)
  • Reverend Father Gregory B. Wilson (2008-2011)
  • Reverend Monsignor Steven L. Brovey (2011–present)


  • Reverend Father Richard Jackson, Parochial Vicar
  • Reverend Father Robert Higgins, In Residence

Adjunct Priests

  • Reverend Monsignor Thomas X. Hoffman, J.C.L., Adjutant Judicial Vicar
  • Reverend Father John H. Dux, C.H.C., C.D.R. U.S.N. (Retired)

100th Anniversary Renovations

In 2007, Bishop Robert J. Baker and Cathedral Rector Rev. Msgr. Joseph Roth announced plans to renovate and complete the cathedral nearly one-hundred years after it opened. The stained-glass windows were refurbished in December 2007. The brownstone has been refurbished, the mortar has been replaced and, after 103 years of waiting, a spire with 3 bells now tops the Cathedral. A $6.2 million contract for restoration and the steeple addition was completed on March 25, 2010.


  • Sacred Heart - The chapel is situated just to the left of the cathedra. It originally served as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, reflecting the fact that in certain Masses prior to 1968, when the bishop sat in front of the altar, the Blessed Sacrament was removed to this altar so that he would not have his back to the reserved Sacrament. In 2008, it briefly became the Chapel of Saint Paul for the Year of Saint Paul. Then in 2009, it became the Sacred Heart Chapel, housing a lovely early 1900s statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with hands extended in blessing.
  • Blessed Virgin Mary - The altar in this chapel is adorned with an Italian Marble statue of the Madonna and Child, sculpted by the German artist Ferdinand Pettrich. The statue is considered unique as it depicts Mary without a head covering, holding the child Jesus as a toddler. It is sometimes referred to as Our Lady of the South or Our Lady of the Confederacy (though not officially) having been purchased by Bishop Lynch, the Confederate Ambassador to the Holy See and third Bishop of Charleston.
  • Our Lady of Grace - The main lower chapel used for daily Masses.
  • Crypt Chapel - The resting place of the first five bishops of Charleston and Joanna Monica England, sister of the First Bishop of Charleston John England. The bishops vest here for Holy Mass. In this chapel is a niche holding a statue of St. Joseph and the child Jesus.
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Charleston, SC)
Cathedral without a steeple as it stood for nearly one hundred years

Spire & Belltower

The Cathedral with its new spire is the seventh tallest building in the city. The spire is covered in copper lattice and is topped with a 16x9 foot gilded copper Celtic cross. The arches below were fabricated from a special fiberglass used in ship building, which was then clad in copper. The arches are decorated by brown cast stone pinnacles on each corner. The belfry section is also constructed of brown cast stone. It has copper louvers. The new spire was designed by Glenn Keyes Architects using a sketch of the steeple from the original 1851 building.


Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist - Charleston 01
Cathedral interior in 2015.

The bells were placed in the Cathedral tower on November 16, 2009. Together the three bronze bells form an E major chord. These bells were cast by Christoph Paccard Bell Foundry in Charleston, South Carolina and blessed by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on October 15, 2009.

  • Saint Therese
    • Note:B-3
    • Inscription: Revelation 5:12
  • Saint Finbar
    • Note:G#-3
    • Inscription: Psalm 104:33
  • Maria Stella Maris (Latin:Mary, Star of the Sea)
    • Note:E-3
    • Inscription: Psalm 95:1


Upper Church

The Cathedral is noted for its Franz Mayer & Co. stained-glass windows. It has a couple of one-of-a-kind windows.

Prodigal Son CHS cathedral
The Mayer Company's creation of stained and painted glass was at its height of production and artistry when the Cathedral's windows were installed in 1907.
  • The three sets of doors are all surmounted by rose windows that are of a unique design (the design is only known to be used by Patrick Keely). Each window has a coat of arms in its center.
    • The Main Doors - Bishop Northop's Coat of arms
    • The East Doors - the State of South Carolina's Coat of arms
    • The West Doors - Pope Saint Pius X's Coat of arms
  • The large Life of Christ windows adorn the sides of the lower nave.
  • The windows in the upper nave are known as the Gallery of the Saints. They depict 28 saints.
  • The sides of the Sanctuary are adorned with windows depicting the four Gospel writers with their winged creatures. Above the High Altar is the Chancel window. The top section is a rose window depicting St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus with the Holy Spirit above. It is surrounded by 8 adoring angels playing instruments. Above the Rose window is a Sacred Heart. To the left of the Rose window is a pelican feeding her three newborn pelicans, and to the right is the Lamb of God. Below all of this is a five-light replica of Da Vinci's Last Supper.
  • The Sacred Heart Chapel contains with seven windows depicting symbols related to the Eucharist from its earlier name as Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • The Madonna & Child Chapel is adorned with seven windows depicting symbols related to Mary, Mother of God. This chapel has one floral designed window that is completely covered by the altar.

Lower Church

  • The Chapel of Our Lady of Grace is adorned on one side with eigh stained-glass windows removed from the former Immaculate Conception Church in Charleston. It originally had 20 windows from the church, but 12 were removed for various reasons over the years.
  • The Crypt Chapel is adorned with windows made from pieces of 4 of the 12 windows that were removed from the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace.

Cathedral Music


Director of Music

  • Director of Music and Organist (1950–1991): Virginia Sturken
  • Director of Music (1991–2000): Bill Schlitt
  • Director of Music and Principal Organist (2000–2009): Mark Thomas
  • Organist and Choirmaster (May 2010-2014): Scott Turkington
  • Organist and Choirmaster (2014-date): Daniel Sansone


  • The Cathedral Choir - principal choir


Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist - Charleston 03
Pipe organ in the rear gallery
  • The Upper Church Organ is a Bedient Pipe Organ, Opus 22, mechanical action instrument with two manuals, 26 stops and 32 ranks. It was originally installed in Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, Louisville, Kentucky in 1986. Maker Gene Bedient reinstalled the instrument in the cathedral in 1995. This replaced Opus 139 by the Ernest M. Skinner Co. installed in 1903.
  • The Chapel of Our Lady of Grace has a Vocalion Reed Organ that is not in working order.
  • The Cathedral also has a small portable pipe organ on wheels.
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