Explorations Around Cincinnati: Notre Dame at 1/3 the size?
Explorations Around Cincinnati: Notre Dame at 1/3 the size? Visit St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
Cincinnati residents and visitors don’t need to travel to Europe to see a beautiful cathedral. Just across the river from Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky, sits St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (covcathedral.com/). In fact, when you arrive, you might feel as if you’ve been transported to Paris, because the façade of St. Mary’s was inspired by Notre Dame in Paris, but at one-third the size.
For comparison’s sake, here is a picture of Notre Dame. You can see that the lower part is very similar, but that the architect of St. Mary’s left off the two towers that top Notre Dame.
Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/watchsmart/2059075766/
The cathedral is open to visitors from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Saturday. There is no admission fee, but they welcome donations. Tours are self-guided. Visitors come from all over the world to see this architectural gem and tour pamphlets are available in several languages.
Construction began in 1895 and the church was dedicated for use in 1901. The façade wasn’t added until 1910. The interior of the cathedral has a Gothic design with an arched ceiling and columns and was modeled after the Abbey Church of St. Denis, also in Paris.
The most notable feature of the cathedral is one of the largest stained glass windows in the world, which measures 67 feet high and 24 feet wide. This window is one of 82 stained glass windows in the church and depicts Mary in the upper tier and saints noted for their Marian studies in the lower tier.
The other windows in the cathedral depict Jesus as a child, Jesus as an adult, apostles and early Christians, miracles of Christ, and the seven sacraments.
I’m not sure if it was because of the amazing detail or because they were located at eye level, but my children and I fell in love with the mosaic stations of the cross. Created by the Elrich Brothers in Venice in 1915, these mosaic masterpieces each contain as many as 80,000 tiles and are replicas of oil paintings by Max Schmalzl.
All of the tiles are made of porcelain ceramic, except one. In the station where Jesus is removed from the cross, Mary is at his side and a single teardrop created from mother-of-pearl falls from her eye.
Other artistic touches that have been added over time include a carved marble baptistry, murals, statues, and intricately carved wood pieces in the sanctuary.
The cathedral contains not one, but three pipe organs. The best way to hear them is to attend a concert during the Concert Series (cathedralconcertseries.org/). The concerts are open to the public and have no admission charge although an offering is taken. The concerts are at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons and feature instrumental and choral music with visiting musicians and choirs. These concerts are a treat for the eyes and ears and are a wonderful way to appreciate the grandeur of the cathedral.
Terri Weeks is a family travel writer in the Cincinnati area, a
mom to three terrific kids, and the Cincinnati Editor for Wandering
Educators. Terri is a local travel guru in Cincinnati. She and
co-author Laura Hoevener have been exploring locations in and around
Cincinnati for the last ten years. Together, they compiled all of their
favorite adventures into their book, Adventures Around Cincinnati: A Parent's Guide to Unique and Memorable Places to Explore with your Kids.
Additionally, her family is on a mission to visit all 50 states by the
time her kids graduate from high school. She blogs about family travel
in the US at www.travel50stateswithkids.com.
All photos courtesy and copyright Terri Weeks, except where noted.