Who would have thought that one of the magnificent cathedrals in America was waiting to be discovered in the industrial suburb of Covington, on the south bank of the Ohio River opposite Cincinnati?
While the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is on the north side of the river, the Diocese of Covington covers the south side of the metropolitan area. And St. Mary’s Cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption, is a beautiful homage to the French Gothic, with heavy influence from Notre Dame de Paris.
The sun wasn’t in the perfect location for photographing the front fa?ade, but I still hope I captured just how incredibly the cathedral looked on a sunny day.
A large rose window faces the south, as the rectory sits on the corner.
The front fa?ade was just finally completed with statues in 2021 and just dedicated in July, with saints representing the names of the parishes in the diocese. Obviously the two front towers have never been completed. Read about the completion of the statuary in this article, which starts on page 8.
But nonetheless, the composition is still impressive.
The tympanum above the front door represent the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
It’s a bit amusing that the composition of the Virgin Mary’s body is in contrapposto, which is an Italian Renaissance invention, which would post-date a Medieval, Gothic cathedral. See Titian’s famous Assumption of the Virgin in the Frari of Venice for comparison.
In the right, south portal is what I believe in the crowning of the Virgin.
And on the left is a straightforward Annunciation, again owing more to the Renaissance in terms of composition than to the Gothic.
The wine grape leaves obviously allude to the Eucharist and the wine served at the Last Supper.
And then there are a lot of saints! I was not able to identify many of them. Can you help?
These three are clearly John the Baptist, Barbara and St. James the Greater.
“This work of the front is dedicated to God in the year of the Lord 1910.”
Around back are some beautiful flying buttresses, which require falsework to build. They are difficult, and show the mastery of the masons who built this cathedral.
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Those statues are all well and good, but in a spectacular act of vandalism and greed, the diocese sold the adjacent historic Bishop’s Mansion so that it could be demolished and replaced by a Walgreen’s. It was quite the acrimonious fight that left a sour taste in the mouth of many historic preservationists.