The centerpiece church of the Diocese of Sacramento, the majestic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, is a physical marker in the historical development of Sacramento. The building has been changed, but unmoved over its 131-year history as documented in a book by the Cathedral Rector Emeritus who oversaw the 2005 Restoration, Reverend Monsignor James T. Murphy (see reference below).
The towering neo-Italian Renaissance structure, dedicated in 1889, sits along a main thoroughfare of downtown Sacramento very near the California State Capitol. The first Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, the Most Reverend Bishop Patrick Manogue considered this location to be very important as he wanted people to see, “Church and State, two important institutions, each pursuing the common good for society, but from different angles.” (Quotation from the Cathedral website referenced below.) The triple-towered structure, topped by seven crosses and a large central dome, is the masterpiece of Bishop Manogue, who envisioned a church like the Englise de la Sainte-Trinite (Church of the Holy Trinity) in Paris near the seminary where he studied. The interior of the building inspires wonder from every angle in its Victorian-era design, and is difficult to see the entire panoply from a single location.
The historic structure was fully restored in 2005 bringing back the best of the original design with some enhancements. Of special import during the “2005 Restoration” was the return of the spectacular 115-foot-high inner dome over the main altar which is topped by a white and blue oculus housing an image of the Holy Spirit as a dove. The church contains many lovely statues, a rare piece of artwork of the Sistine Madonna and numerous exceptionally beautiful stained-glass windows. Enshrined in the main altar is a relic of Saint Toribio Romo who was martyred in the Cristero War during the persecution of the Church in Mexico in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
The Cathedral is home to all important ecclesiastical events, but also serves Bishop Manogue’s original desire to have the church bind together pursuits of both the sacred and the secular; and is the location for many community events and concerts. Of course, the church is also the site of a functioning parish and (under normal circumstances) holds weekday Masses at 12:10 and 5 p.m. with the noontime Mass being very popular with the many State of California workers employed around the site. The Cathedral holds a 5 pm Saturday evening Mass, as well as seven Masses on Sunday including two Masses in Spanish and one in a Chinese language.
Address: 1019 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 444-3071
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Avella, Steven M., Fr. Sacramento and the Catholic Church, Shaping a Capital City. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2008.
Cathedral of Sacramento – https://www.cathedralsacramento.org/
Diocese of Sacramento – https://www.scd.org/
Murphy, James T., Reverend Monsignor. A Pilgrim’s Guide to Sacramento’s Cathedral. France: Editions du Signe, 2006.
Murphy, James T., Reverend Monsignor. Saints and Sinners in the Cristero War. San Francisco: Saint Ignatius Press, 2019.