Historic Faribault Features the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour
Standing high above the nearby trees of Central Park is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault, MN. The cathedral itself has been a landmark in the Faribault community for almost as long as the town has been around.
Historic Faribault Features is a blog series that details the rich and exciting history of one of Minnesota’s most historic communities. In the first issue of this series, we’re going to highlight the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour – the first Episcopal Cathedral in the United States.
A Brief History
Before construction on the cathedral began, there was the man who thought of the idea. Bishop Henry Whipple was elected by the Episcopal Diocese as the first Bishop of Minnesota. When he arrived to the state, Whipple searched across Minnesota to find the perfect place to establish his church. When he visited the settlement of Faribault, the community welcomed him and offered to help create his new church. Whipple accepted the offer and soon began work on his grand idea of creating the first Episcopal Cathedral.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1862 and took seven years to complete. During which time, the country was faced with conflict. Both the Civil War and the Battle of the Dakotas halted construction. In 1869, however, the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour was completed and services began.
Another notable fact about the original construction of the cathedral is the man who designed the structure. James Renwick Jr. was asked by Whipple to help design the unique structure. Some of Renwick’s other famous designs include St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian Institution Building in Washington D.C.
Bishop Henry Whipple passed away in 1901. Just one year after his death, the community of Faribault decided to finish the bell tower attached to the cathedral. The construction of the bell tower was stopped in the original construction due to cost cuts. The designs of the bell tower were created by Ralph Adams Cram who would later be commissioned to design a series of buildings for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Construction of the bell tower was finished in 1902 and consist of 10 bells. Today, special tours of the cathedral will take visitors up in the bell tower to ring the iconic bells for all of Faribault to hear. At the bottom of the tower is a memorial tablet that reads:
“This tower is the thanksgiving of many people for Henry Benjamin Whipple, first Bishop of Minnesota and is the symbol before men of the supreme value of a righteous man.”
Inside the Cathedral
When a person passes through the doors of the cathedral, they see the high vaulted ceilings and an alter at the end of the aisle. Shining in the walls of the cathedral are a series of beautiful stained glass windows. Two of these windows were donated by the Native American people who raised money to give as gifts to the church. Native American children raised the $125 needed to purchase the window by selling berries.
A Place in the Community Today
The cathedral still stands as one of the many historic landmarks in the Faribault community. The history of the cathedral is one that’s filled with memories and stories that reflect the people who made the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour what it is today.
In 1862, the idea of creating a cathedral in Faribault Minnesota was thought of by a man named Bishop Henry Whipple and is carried on by the people of today.