Scenic USA - Montana

Cathedral of St. Helena

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Cathedral of St. Helena - Helena, Montana

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Founded in July 1864, present day Helena grew up around the Last Chance mining camp. And it didn't take long for some of the town's people to decide that Last Chance wasn't an appropriate name for their community. After John Summerville proposed the name Helena, and ultimately chosen, controversy arose over its pronunciation. Founded on a huge gold deposit, the crossroads town of Helena (HEL-i-na) turned into the capital city of Montana as well as the county seat of Lewis and Clark County.
   Shortly after the city's rise to prominence, Bishop John Carroll led the initiative to build a cathedral church for the Catholic community. With a generous contribution from Thomas Cruse, the church site was selected in 1905. Architect A. O. Von Herbulis of Washington DC was commissioned to design the structure because of his extensive knowledge of European cathedrals. Cathedral of St. Helena - Helena, Montana Of the two designs offered, the building committee selected the classic geometric Neo-Gothic design modeled after the famous Votive Church of the Sacred Heart in Vienna, Austria.
   Although the first church services were held in 1914, the Cathedral of Saint Helena wasn't completed until 1924. Its most notable stained glass windows, designed by F.X. Zettler Firm of Austria, tell the Bible history from Adam and Eve to the 20th century Church. The cathedral's towering twin spires, seen from many vantage points around the city, accentuate the exterior, while its high domed ceiling sets of the dramatic interior. Although the cathedral was severely damaged during a 1935 earthquake, toppling one of the twin spires, the damage was repaired. The church is open for tours, and is best appreciated with the help of a guide.

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