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First-class relic of Pope St. Pius X placed under new altar at Cathedral

The following story appeared in the November 18 Idaho Catholic Register.

Left, Bishop Peter Christensen places a first-class relic of Pope St. Pius X in the floor that will be underneath the altar at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. On the right, he blesses the relic. (Courtesy photo/Deacon Daniel Gamboa, St. John Cathedral)


Renovation at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist continues, albeit slightly behind schedule, with the recent placement of a relic under the new space for the altar.


It is Catholic tradition that an altar be consecrated with a saint’s relic inside or underneath it. Bishop Peter Christensen recently placed a first-class relic (a bone fragment) of Pope St. Pius X underneath the altar’s new location in the sanctuary of the Cathedral. The relic was donated to the Cathedral by a family in the parish.


A time-lapsed video of Bishop Peter placing the relic in the space underneath the altar can be viewed on the Cathedral’s YouTube site, “Boise Cathedral” or on its Facebook page of the same name.


St. Pius X served as pope from 1903 to 1914. He was beatified in 1951 and canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1954. According to the Cathedral’s bulletin, Pope St. Pius X is “known for resisting modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine and for promoting liturgical reforms and scholastic theology.” He initiated what eventually became the 1917 Code of Canon Law.



The spot where the relic, a bone fragment of Pope St. Pius X, is to be placed underneath the Cathedral’s altar. (Courtesy photo/Deacon Daniel Gamboa, St. John Cathedral)


The second phase of a major renovation of the sanctuary of the Cathedral began last June. The altar is being moved further into the sanctuary, to its original location. That will create enough space at the front of the church to add more pews, increasing capacity in the Cathedral by about 100. The pews in the north and south transepts will be repositioned 90 degrees so that all seating in the Cathedral will face west, toward the altar.


The ambo will be moved to be six inches behind the front of the altar and on the sanctuary elevation. The renovation will expose the currently hidden marble base on which the ambo rests.


Another major feature of the renovation, recently completed, is the installation of a new Holy Spirit window, the large stained glass window in the center-back of the Cathedral. The window will be designed to better compliment the current colors and design of the other windows which include St. Matthew, St. Mark, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Mary and St. John, the Cathedral’s patron saint.


It was hoped that the second phase would have been completed by Advent (Nov. 27), but delayed deliveries caused by the nationwide fuel short-age have slowed the progress. However, weekend Masses are now being celebrated in the Cathedral, moved from the adjoining St. Joseph’s School several weeks ago.


Earlier this year, the tabernacle in the Cathedral was moved from the north transept to its original location in the center. At the same time, the Bishop’s canopy and chair was moved from the back of the sanctuary to the north wall and the crucifix raised to a higher position.


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