- pastor’s welcome
- mission statement
- cathedral history
- museum of virginia catholic history
- visiting the cathedral
- universal access
- cathedral coffee table book
- picture gallery
Welcome to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Parish! For over a century, the Cathedral has provided a singular environment for Sunday worship, varied liturgical events, diocesan celebrations, and community events. The people of the Cathedral Parish Community represent a wide variety of age groups, backgrounds, experiences and occupations. Unlike many suburban parishes, our parishioners choose to travel to the Cathedral from all areas of the city of Richmond and local counties to our inner city location.
Given all these singular gifts, we realize that a newcomer can still feel isolated in the midst of new and unknown faces, ministries and opportunities. We hope to minimize such isolation and invite you to learn more about the Cathedral Parish so that you and your household may experience our rich opportunities for worship, community, and ministry. The Cathedral is truly a place where all are counted as parishioners.
Monsignor Patrick Golden, Rector
We, the Cathedral community of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, express our shared life in the ministries of liturgical celebration, faith formation and service. Our vision is rooted in the mission of Jesus Christ to the world and in our uniqueness as a parish, specifically the diversity of our membership from all walks of life, our relationship to our urban neighborhood, including Virginia Commonwealth University, our history, and our special role as the mother parish of our diocese.
Designed by New York architect Joseph H. McGuire, the Cathedral is considered to be Virginia’s finest ecclesiastical example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style. The building is constructed of Virginia granite and Indiana limestone with a copper dome and tile roof. Six fluted Corinthian columns support the architrave on the front of the exterior, which displays the motto “If Ye Love Me Keep My Commandments” (John 14:15). The outline of the coat of arms of the Diocese of Richmond appears above the name of the church to the left of the columns.
Richmond was a small town of only 16,000 when its first Catholic Cathedral, St. Peter’s, 800 E. Grace Street, was built in 1834. After the Civil War, Bishop John McGill realized that the growing Catholic population would need a new house of worship. In 1867 he purchased a lot in what was then considered the far west end. Lack of funds prevented further action until 1884 when Bishop John J. Keane purchased the remainder of the present block. With the announcement of a gift of $500,000 for the proposed cathedral from Thomas Fortune Ryan and his wife, Ida Barry Ryan, plans for the building were drawn up.
On June 4, 1903, Archbishop Diomede Falconio, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, officiated at the laying of the cornerstone, which came from the Garden of Gethsemane. Three years later, thousands of people filled the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart for the Dedication on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1906. The consecration ceremony was a milestone in both Richmond’s history and the history of the Catholic Church in Virginia. The event was reported nationally, and the local newspaper devoted two special sections on the religious, architectural, and civic importance of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral Carillon was installed in 1995. It is a gift of the Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, then Bishop of Richmond, in celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Diocese of Richmond and the 25th Anniversary of Bishop Sullivan’s episcopacy. The 61-bell note Carillon was made by Van Bergen Foundries, Inc. of Charleston, South Carolina.
Framed by Richmond’s Monroe Park, the Monroe Park campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, and the residential Fan District, the Cathedral serves as the Mother Church of the Diocese of Richmond and as the local parish for its Richmond congregation. The Cathedral is a Virginia Historic Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and received the Historic Richmond Foundation’s 1992 Award of Achievement for its restoration.
Cathedral Fast Facts:
- In 2006, the Cathedral celebrated its 100th year anniversary.
- The Cathedral is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Cathedral was designed by noted New York Architect Joseph H. Mcguire in Italian Renaissance Revival style.
- The Cathedral recently underwent extensive renovations to its entire complex.
- The Cathedral is the Mother Parish of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and the local parish for its Richmond congregation.
- The Cathedral’s namesake is The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- The Cathedral houses The Museum of Virginia Catholic History.
- The Cathedral’s Music Ministry actively promotes and engages in the arts and social outreach for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and the Greater Richmond Area by hosting free music concerts and choirs throughout the year.
- Catholic Campus Ministry serving Virginia Commonwealth University has long been an active ministry for college students at the Cathedral.
- In partnership with St. Bridget’s Church, the Cathedral’s Haiti Ministry supports an elementary school in Carissade, Haiti.
- The Cathedral has over 40 ministries that parishioners can be a part of: ParishResource Guide.
Museum of Virginia Catholic History
The Museum of Virginia Catholic History was established by the Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, eleventh Bishop of Richmond.
In the late 1990s, Bishop Sullivan recognized a growing need for a permanent environment in which to collect and display the rare artifacts and memorabilia that belonged to the Diocese. With the intention of creating a space in which to illustrate the rich history of Catholicism in Virginia, plans to establish a Diocesan museum began to take shape.
Through the efforts and determination of Anne C. Edwards, then Chancellor of the Diocese, Bishop Sullivan’s vision came to fruition in May of 2003 as the Museum of Virginia Catholic History opened its doors to the public for the first time.
In 2008, following the relocation of the Diocesan administrative offices and archives to the new Pastoral Center, the decision was made to move the museum collections into the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the mother church of the Diocese. The Cathedral is a well-visited national historic landmark, making it an ideal location for the display of museum artifacts.
Presently, there are two museum exhibits installed in the Cathedral: Built on a Cornerstone of Faith: The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, located in the Baptistery Gallery, and a temporary exhibit illustrating the history of the Diocese of Richmond which is located in the Crypt & Undercroft area. Additionally, there are four informational displays in the Cathedral’s vestibule and aisle cases that illustrate the Cathedral’s early history, highlighting its 1906 Consecration Day.
The mission of the Museum of Virginia Catholic History is to collect, preserve and interpret artifacts of spiritual and cultural significance belonging to Virginia’s Catholic community.
Through its collection, the Museum traces the history of the Diocese of Richmond from its establishment in 1820 up to the present day. The items on exhibit help to tell the story of the Diocese, illustrating the development of Catholic faith and identity in Virginia.
By preserving these unique artifacts, future generations of Catholics are assured a visible memory and greater understanding of the people, places and events that have helped to shape Catholicism in the state.
The Museum of Virginia Catholic History is committed to educating visitors about the challenges Virginia’s early Catholic men and women encounters and overcame, enabling Catholicism to flourish.
For more information visit the Catholic Diocese of Richmond
Visiting the Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is located in Richmond, Virginia near the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University at 800 S Cathedral Pl, Richmond, VA 23220. The Cathedral is open for visitors Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Saturdays 3:30 – 6:00 p.m., and Sundays 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m., unless there is a special event or services are in progress. Please note, the Cathedral is typically closed for major holidays such as Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.
Whether you’re a parishioner, guest, or a first-time visitor, please be sure to check out the Self-Guided Tour Brochure and take a virtual tour of our majestic Cathedral or take the 360° tour. Also, check out our Mass Schedule.