There is an abundance of churches, chapels, cathedrals and temples all across our state. Many of these renowned houses of worship have historical significance, but one really stands out. The Roman Catholic St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption at 1140 Madison Avenue in Covington is possibly the most amazing chapel in Kentucky. Why?
12. For starters, it is a Basilica.
What is special about a Basilica? There are major and minor Basilicas. Only four majors exist in the world and not surprisingly, they all stand in Europe. However, there are 35 minor Basilicas in the U.S. A Basilica gains its title due to its significance as a place of worship, antiquity, historical importance and dignity. The Basilica in Covington embraces all four standards.
11. The structure has stood the test of time.
The original construction began in 1895. It was replacement for a frame church built in 1834 under the order of the Diocese of Covington’s third bishop. Camillus Paul Maes. The Cathedral Basilica was the dream of the bishop. The faith and determination of the people show in the beauty and elegance of the structure.
10. It remains an ongoing work of architectural art.
The cathedral is an ongoing project. Though it is both breathtaking and stable in structure, the Basilica still has work to be done. The old structure and intricate art must be maintained, and that is a consistent task.
9. The arches
The amazing arched ceilings in cathedrals have long been marveled at. Most people don’t know just how much weight hangs above their heads. The design features something similar to pliers, which create a ribbed vault held in place by intersecting pointed arches. Something so beautiful and flowing is actually an intricate part of what keeps the building together.
8. It is a scale downed replica.
The cathedrals of Europe are all works of architectural art. The Basilica in Covington was actually designed as a replica of the renowned Notre Dame in Parish France. The difference is that it is only 1/3 the size. The gargoyles and flying buttress architecture in the authentic Gothic Cathedral style give us a glimpse of Parish without traveling to Europe.
7. The architecture of the time
Gothic was the common architectural theme for the Middle Ages, and the Cathedral was the religious focus point of the day. It may not be the gathering points of the merchants and community in modern times, but it still has its draw. Thousands flock in and out to observe the beauty and history of this ancient structure in person annually.
6. Hand carved gargoyles
There are 26 gargoyles that not only watch staunchly over the Cathedral, but also aid in the diversion of rainwater. Some people are confused by the frightening appearance, but in reality, they were carved to represent to personify human qualities. Each was hand carved with a special type of behavior somehow related to a virtuous Christian.
5. Beautiful stained glass windows
The cathedral houses some of the most gorgeous stained glass windows in the state. The care and faith utilized in the creation of this functional art shows as the sun shimmers through the vibrant colors. The rays of light take on tinted hues from the reflection in each pane.
4. This Basilica houses the world’s second largest, handmade stained glass window.
It depicts the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin and the Council of Ephesus. The window is 67’ X 24’. The detail is immaculate in the virtually life size figures that watch over the visitors to the cathedral.
3. The Pipe Organs
The Basilica is home to three pipe organs, one of which ws built in 1933 by renowned creater Henry Willis III. That particular organ was renovated in 1982 by Aultz-Kersting Organ, and increased from 43 ranks of pipes to a total of 65. The sound is unbelievable. Another of the organs is even older, built in 1858 and still has the original ivory keys.
2. Intricate woodwork
The seating, confessional and internal wooden arches are all intricately carved. The tiny details etched along the wood can capture your gaze and maintain it as you follow the patterns. The amount of care taken in creating the internal workings of the Basilica is truly amazing.
1. Delicate mosaics
The mosaics are so well done here many look like paintings until you are in touching distance. Each delicate tile was individually created to form the much larger works of art seen today.
Some of the region’s most talented artists have worked on pieces for the Basilica over the decades. All mediums have been utilized, including canvas, murals, glass, marble, wood and sculpting techniques. Just reviewing the history and viewing the breathtaking art can show you why this is an amazing chapel in Kentucky. Have you ever visited the Basilica? If not, what do you think is the most amazing chapel in our state?