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Cathedral of the Assumption

The Cathedral of the Assumption is the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville and the oldest inland Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S.—and a heavenly piece of architecture in downtown Louisville. The church’s parish was established in 1805 and continues strong today.

Designed by William Keeley, the cathedral was constructed between 1849 and 1852. This American Gothic structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The steeple tower, rising 287 feet above the pavement, was North America’s tallest at the time of its completion, and the coronation window is one of the oldest and largest hand-painted stained glass windows in the U.S.

The church got its start in Louisville as St. Louis church, under the guidance of Father Stephen Theodore Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States. Presentation Academy, Saint Joseph Infirmary, and Saint Vincent’s Orphanage all had their beginnings in the cathedral basement. Over the years, the Cathedral of the Assumption has been visited by many famous people, including the Dalai Lama, Rose Kennedy, and Babe Ruth.

The main body of the church underwent a major restoration in 1994. One glowing feature is the cathedral ceiling, which is covered in some 8,000 24-karat gold stars. The cathedral web site includes a virtual tour.

More facts about the church:

  • The Cathedral of the Assumption is the fourth oldest public building in Louisville and the third oldest Catholic cathedral in the United States still in continuous use.
  • The cathedral complex includes an Italianate parish school (constructed in 1867) and rectory (Italianate with Tudor elements, 1912).

The Archdiocese of Louisville History Center, located within the cathedral’s Patterson Education Center, displays objects and artifacts from Louisville’s founding in 1775 to the present day. It is open Sundays from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (ET). Admission is free. To arrange a tour of the cathedral, call the parish office at (502) 582-2971.

Program 121
Tracing your roots, Apple Patch, Brightside, Cathedral of the Assumption, and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth. (#121)