Located just northeast of downtown Peoria, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception has recently gained greater prominence as the burial place of the Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I’ve looked at some of the houses nearby, most recently back in July.
The first St. Mary’s was completed in 1852, and was a small Gothic Revival structure. It was replaced by the much larger edifice you see today saw its cornerstone laid in 1885. It was completed in 1889. After various renovations in the Twentieth Century, a remodel in 2014 returned the building to its original colors and appearance.
The hardware absolutely glows in the morning sun, as you can see in the front portal. It still shows some of the Twentieth Century renovations in the alcove.
The twin spires, showing the influence of German Gothic, are interrupted halfway up, giving an interesting optical illusion.
Next door is the rectory, a sort of Italianate building.
I like it a lot, and with the use of the same stone on both the rectory and cathedral, provides for visual unity between the two.
Moving inside, we see the dramatic blue vaults with gold stars. Interesting fact: the Sistine Chapel in Rome once had a similar paint scheme before Michelangelo frescoed it.
The high altar has been restored to much of its original appearance, and includes a Spanish painting of the Crucifixion in the center.
The organ is actually designed by a Sister of St. Mary of O’Fallon, and was built in 1937.
The Tomb of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is a major pilgrimage site, having been moved here recently. Sheen was born in nearby El Paso, and was once a priest in Peoria at St. Mark’s. While much of his career was in New York State, he is now home.