Exterior of Cathedral
The architect of our cathedral is Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, a well known architect of the early 20th century. He designed many monumental buildings and cathedrals. To start your tour, step outside and walk to the northwest corner of the cathedral. There you will find a very important stone: the cornerstone. This rose granite foundation was laid in 1906, with the cornerstone dedicated on Oct. 17, 1906. The inscription reads:
Ecclesia Immaculatae Conceptionis B.M.V.
Although on this important day the foundations of the cathedral were laid, the foundation was allowed to settle for two years before construction of the rest of the cathedral proceeded. This was done for practical reasons, but perhaps we can also draw an important spiritual lesson from this: firm foundations, whether in building or in the spiritual life allow the resulting edifice to rise to glorious heights. After working on the cathedral for another four years, it was finally dedicated on Sept. 19, 1912 by the Archbishop of Baltimore and the nation’s first cardinal, His Eminence James Gibbons. More than 30 bishops were present for the Mass of dedication.
Walk to the front of the porch. An important architectural detail is the large granite columns. These columns came from the old post office in Chicago and were shipped by rail to Wichita after the post office was demolished. Each column is a single piece, and the columns are found both here and inside of our cathedral.
As you step onto the porch of the cathedral look up above the doors to see the coat of arms of the first bishop of Wichita, John J. Hennessy, who came to us from St. Louis. His motto was caritas et pax or “charity and peace” an appropriate sentiment as one enters into the house of God, a house of love and peace. Below Bishop Hennessy’s coat of arms is a bas-relief of the Blessed Virgin Mary, again reminding us of her maternal protection as you pass from the busy outside world and enter into a place of refuge and peace.
The bronze doors, designed and created by the Italian company Domus Dei, were installed in 1997 as a replacement for the original wooden doors. These doors depict a number of important figures in the life of our faith, both historically and in the Church in the United States. The doors on the east and west depict the diverse nature of the Church in America honoring people of all ages and ethnicities.
The center or main doors depict the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and complement the windows of the cathedral, which depict the Joyful (east side of church) and the Glorious (west side of church) Mysteries. The five Sorrowful Mysteries are: 1) The Agony in the Garden (lower left), 2) The Scourging at the Pillar (upper right), 3) The Crowning with Thorns (upper left), 4) Jesus Carries His Cross (lower right), 5) Jesus Dies on the Cross (upper center).
The west doors (viewer’s right) depict three more saints and one more holy man who were again important to the local Church in Wichita. The three saints are: 1) St. Frances Cabrini (1850-1917), 2) St. Peter Claver (1580-1654), and 3) St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680). The holy man is Fr. Juan de Padilla (1500-1542).
The east doors (viewer’s left) depict three saints and one holy man who are important to the local church in Wichita. The three saints are: 1) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1714-1821), 2) St. Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852), and 3) St. Juan Diego (1474-1548). The holy man is Servant of God, Fr. Emil Kapaun (1916-1951).