Explore the extraordinary Cathedral of the Madeleine. Salt Lake City has many impressive structures as the headquarters of the Mormon Church, but its Roman Catholic Church is also an important religious building. It serves as the mother church of the diocese of Salt Lake City and one of just a few churches and cathedrals in the U.S. under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene.
Before even going inside, appreciate the cathedral’s intricate exteriors. Completed in 1909, it was built in a Romanesque style using Utah sandstone. Stop to admire the large tympanum above the main doors. The intricate carving, nestled between the lintel and the arch, features Christ flanked by two angels, the Twelve Apostles, the four great Doctors of the Church and the four Evangelists. Try to spot all eight gargoyles peering down from the east and west towers.
Inside, the church is neo-Gothic in style. Unlike the outside, it has undergone several transformations through the years. When the cathedral was first built, its interiors were simple, with white walls and green columns. Succeeding bishops, inspired by Gothic art from the Middle Ages, made them increasingly colorful and extravagant. Admire the fruits of their labors today, from brilliant murals to colorful arched ceilings.
Examine the stained-glass windows along every wall, all depicting different biblical scenes. Note woodcarvings throughout the cathedral. Isaac Kirchmayer, a renowned woodworker, created the pieces on the reredos behind the altar. Flanking the altar, pick out his renderings of founders of religious orders. Check out the striking white altar and baptismal font, both made of Carrara onyx. You can’t miss the vivid murals throughout the cathedral. The focal point is the mural of Christ on the cross, with God above and a pelican and her children, symbolizing Christ's sacrifice, below.
Stroll through the Cathedral of the Madeleine at your leisure, unless there is a service. On most Tuesday afternoons, the cathedral offers guided tours beginning in the vestibule. Check its website for the current tour calendar. Find the cathedral in the heart of Salt Lake City.