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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Twin Cities - Twin Churches

The Basilica of St Mary Minneapolis

The Twin Cities can boast two magnificent churches that attract the faithful and tourists. They are both Roman Catholic and architectural marvels. Both are located on hills and stand tall in their respective cities.

In 1680, Father Louis Hennepin, a missionary, started the first Catholic settlement in Minneapolis. From a tiny shed church, the parish and buildings grew as immigrants came in droves to Minneapolis.

A basilica is an honorary title designated by the pope. The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis became the first basilica in the United States. The church opened in 1914. Today it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Altar in basilica
The basilica ceiling
The basilica covers an entire block and is the dream child of Archbishop John Ireland. At the beginning of the 20th century, he commissioned the building of a church in the Neoclassical/Baroque architectural style. The walls are built of white Vermont granite. The main entrance is a colonnaded portico with two 116-foot spires on each side. The grand dome measures 40 square feet at the base and rising 138 feet above the floor. In total, it stands 200 feet high.

It serves as the venue for area events including the annual Basilica Block Party weekend music festival.
Cathedral of St Paul

A cathedral is the home church of a bishop. The present Cathedral of St Paul is the fourth church building in a diocese dating back to 1841 and was completed in the early 20th century. The outside walls are built of granite from St. Cloud, MN. The church seats 3,000 and includes a Shrine of Nations with six individual shrines honoring the patron saints of the city's immigrants. In addition, the church encompasses four side chapels.

The cathedral is the third largest church in the US and the fourth tallest at 306.5 feet. It dominates the skyline from its perch on top of St. Paul's highest hill.

Altar in cathedral
In researching it, I learned a fun little piece of history. The original French Canadian settlement that would become St. Paul (named after the cathedral's dedication to the apostle Paul) was originally called Pig's Eye.

Pipe organ in cathedral
The cathedral is host to many local arts events throughout the year, including an organ concert series, Vocal Essence Choral Ensembles and the Minnesota Orchestra.

On our recent visit we stayed at the Residence Inn in Roseville, which offers close proximity to both Minneapolis and St. Paul. It is an ideal location for those of us who love to explore various places. For those like us who travel with their dogs, the Residence Inn is pet-friendly.

Disclosure: Visit Roseville MN ( hosted our visit to the Twin Cities, however, all opinions expressed in this article are my own.