Saint John's Cathedral Est. 1906

In memory of Father Donald J. Riffle
by the John B. & Joan H. Carley Foundation

In 1863, the year Boise City was founded, Roman Catholic pioneers heard Sunday Mass in John O'Farrell's tiny cabin. Forty-three years later, a cathedral was needed.

In 1884, Father Glorieux, the President of St. Michael’s College in Portland, was appointed Bishop of the newly created Vicar Apostolic of Idaho, for which Boise City was the seat.  At that time, only two priests served the entire Idaho territory with its 1,500 parishioners. Under the bishop’s guidance, the vicariate grew to a population of 7,000 Catholics, with 10 priests, 27 churches, four schools, an academy and two hospitals. Due to growth and Idaho’s statehood, the vicariate was elevated to the Diocese of Boise in 1893.

Bishop Glorieux engaged architects Tourtellotte & Hummel to design a cathedral to be built on the city block enclosed by Eighth, Ninth, Fort and Hays streets. He chose a Romanesque Revival style with a cruciform floor plan, large enough to seat 1,000 people. The builders quarried the sandstone from Table Rock, east of town. Bishop Glorieux laid the cornerstone in 1906.

The bishop would not allow his parishioners to go into debt, so construction progress was gradual: pay-as-you-go. The basement was the first enclosed space, so parishioners attended Mass there for many years until the next stage was financed. World War I delayed construction, and Bishop Glorieux died before it was finished. In 1921, Bishop Daniel Gorman dedicated the superb work of his predecessor.

Architect Charles Hummel, grandson of the first Hummel, joined the Hummel firm in 1953. He had been baptized, confirmed and married at St. John's, so he was very pleased to undertake its restoration, cleaning and remodeling during the 1970s. St. John's was rededicated in 1979.

Read more about the Cathedral of St. John.

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