Hundreds gather to celebrate centennial of Boise cathedral
The following story appeared in the June 11 Idaho Catholic Register.
St. John the Evangelist Cathedral with its new staircase, podium and brass relief sculptures with scenes from the Gospel of John. (Photo courtesy of Allen Baxter Photography Services and the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist)
by Gene Fadness
When St. John the Evangelist Cathedral was dedicated in 1921, it was the beginning of the “Roaring 20s,” de-fined as a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by recovery from wartime devastation and deferred spending.
A century later, thousands gathered at the same Cathedral on a Corpus Christi weekend to celebrate renewed faith, a restoration to near normalcy after more than a year of a global pandemic, as well as major changes to the beloved mother church of the Diocese of Boise.
For the Diocese of Boise, it could be said that the 2020s may be as roaring as the 1920s. It certainly seemed that way as Bishop Peter Christensen, noticing the standing-room only congregation before him as he began his homily, jokingly asked, “What are you celebrating?” and then added, “You love your Cathedral!”
Before the Mass began, the Bishop, from outside, blessed the grand staircase and platform at the main entrance as well as the side entrance, the culmination of a project years in the making. He also blessed three bas-relief sculptures embedded in the base of the staircase platform. The sculptures, by Boise area artist Michael Dente, depict scenes from the Gospel of John, the Cathedral’s patron saint. At street level outside, they are a permanent witness to the message proclaimed from inside the Cathedral’s doors.
After he blessed the stairs and sculptures, the Bishop processed into a packed Cathedral behind banners representing parishes throughout the state. To continue the celebration of Corpus Christi after the Mass, the Bishop, carrying a monstrance bearing a consecrated host, led a procession of up to 1,000 people from the Cathedral down Boise’s busy Ninth Street to the Center on the Grove plaza where hundreds knelt in Adoration before the monstrance while Basque dancers performed. The procession then made its way up Eighth Street to the State Capitol and back to the Cathedral for a final blessing. Onlookers stopped to take pictures, a few even joining the procession.
As the procession neared St. John’s, the Cathedral’s new Carillon bell system rang out from four 400-watt speakers located in the Cathedral’s central tower.
“Although we installed the Carillon seven weeks ago, it seemed only fitting to wait and surprise the parish and the community by its first ringing for our centennial celebration and, more importantly, for our Lord and King, Jesus, after He was processed from downtown to the Cathedral,” said Deacon Daniel Gamboa, administrator of the parish.
Bishop Peter Christensen genuflects before the monstrance at the conclusion of the Corpus Christi Mass at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. The Bishop then led hundreds on a Corpus Christi Procession through downtown Boise. On the same day, the Cathedral celebrated its 100th anniversary. (ICR photo/Gene Fadness)
The bells are programmed to ring at the top of each hour, for the Angelus at noon, and then close out the day with the Salve Regina at 7 p.m.
The celebration began on Saturday night with a Vigil Mass followed by a social in the parish hall and video presentation on the Cathedral’s history by historian John O’Hagan, author of “Stone Wondrously Hewn: The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.”
That was followed by an organ and choral concert by Ray Morvant and the Cathedral choir performing, the “Seven Last Words of Christ,” which was also performed the night before the Cathedral was dedicated in 1921.
“The concert was absolutely splendid and well-attended,” said Father Mariusz Majewski, pastor of the parish and rector of the Cathedral. “People really enjoyed this meditation on the Passion of Jesus.”
“The Sunday celebration was especially glorious because the weather was perfect and it was so powerful for us to go into center of the city with the Blessed Sacrament to bless the entire city of Boise and our Diocese with the presence of Jesus,” Father Mariusz said.
After the procession ended, hundreds remained on the street in front of the Cathedral, which had been closed to traffic, to allow for a street festival that included food, live music, a cakewalk and other games.
“Many people stayed all day for the games, food, music and fellowship,” Father Mariusz said. “The spirit was so positive. People loved being together.”
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