I found St. Paul to be a delightful city: clean, pleasing to the eye, easy to get around, distinctly urban, yet maintaining a small town feel. I found myself wishing I had more than two days to visit.
While there, I also learned that no trip to St. Paul is complete without a visit to the beautiful Cathedral of St. Paul (recently designated by the Holy Father as the National Shrine of St. Paul):
(Photo: T.J. McGovern - http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc21562.php)
Now for a little self-disclosure:
I have an unusual hobby when traveling. Each time I travel to a new place, I search out and visit the Catholic cathedral (the home church of the local Catholic bishop).
I am not sure exactly how this practice came to be. I love the grandeur and beauty of traditional Church architecture, and the cathedrals I have visited each been beautiful in their own unique way. Yet many churches, not just cathedrals, can lay claim to grandeur and beauty. So what is it that attracts me to cathedrals?
I think what draws me is the visible and concrete reminder of the authority the Church as vested in the local bishop. This authority is, of course, symbolized by the bishop’s chair or “cathedra” visibly present in the sanctuary of each of each cathedral (and set aside for use only by the bishop).
Now back to Minnesota:
Over the years, I have visited cathedrals all over the world (though, alas, not in
Since we were visiting the Cathedral on a Sunday, we were able to attend mass which was a special treat. Afterwards, we spent a good hour touring the inside of the Church.
To top off our special day, as we were leaving, a large procession of seminarians from the St. John Vianney seminary arrived as we were leaving. They had pilgrimaged to the Cathedral to mark the begin of their school year. The presence of these young men joyfully singing hymns as they approached and then entered the Church was inspiring.