Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark, NJ
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the fifth-largest cathedral in North America, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. It is located at 89 Ridge Street in Newark, New Jersey. Envisioned as a "fitting monument to the faith," construction began in 1899 and was finished in 1954. The original design called for an English/Irish-gothic church, but plans were later modified in favor of a French-gothic style.
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was proposed in 1859 by James Roosevelt Bayley, the Bishop of Newark, just six years after his appointment by Pope Pius IX. Proposed sites included a corner at High and Kinney Streets and an alternate at South and Broad Streets.
However, the current site, next to Branch Brook Park in the Forest Hill section of Newark's North Ward, was chosen. Bayley waited to buy the land until the site was recommended by Jeremiah O'Rourke, the architect of the planned cathedral; the Reverend Monsignor George Hobart Doane; and the Right Reverend G.W. Doane. G.W. Doane liked the current site because it "commands a view of the Orange Mountains on the west and Newark Valley, the hills of Staten Island, and New York on the east." The property purchase was completed January 2, 1871, for US$60,000.
At the request of Bayley, G.W. Doane traveled to Germany, France and England to get ideas for the new cathedral.
In 1872, Bayley was elevated to Archbishop of Baltimore and the project was handed over to the new bishop, Michael Corrigan. Corrigan ordered the excavation of the site in 1875 and 1876. In 1881, the project was handed over to yet another new bishop, Winand Wigger.
The City of Newark wanted to buy the site for the new Newark High School in 1896 but was rejected by Wigger. As the plans moved on, Wigger erected a temporary church under the same name on February 15, 1889. In July 1897, a fundraiser was started to build the cathedral. At the same time, the design was being chosen. O'Rourke was chosen to design an English-Irish gothic design. In accepting the commission, O'Rourke pledged to Wigger that the work would be "a labor of love and not of fees and profits."
Following groundbreaking in January 1898, the cornerstone was laid on June 11, 1899. O'Rourke wanted to get the walls and towers built first and selected a Vermont Rockport granite as the exterior stone. By 1902, the walls then stood 50-feet at the nave and ambulatory, with the first four tiers of the front towers under construction. Wigger died on January 5, 1901, and the new bishop, John Joseph O'Connor, asked O'Rourke to cut costs not to exceed a price tag of US$1 million.
By 1918, construction moved at a steady pace to allow the completion of the steel-slated roof in November 1919. The granite tympanum canopies and medallions were finished and, by July 1924, the windows were completed. With this, the building was finally insulated for the first time since the construction's start. The carving of the medallions' scriptural scenes and bishops' portraits took place on-site between April 1922 and November 1924 under the direction of Rochette and Parzini of New York City.
In 1925, officials wanted the cathedral to be completed by December 1926 in time for the 50th anniversary of O'Connor's ordination as a priest. The dedication was postponed because of a dispute over the type of limestone used and the many delays in construction. Limestone installation, vaulting, the work on the sanctuary floor and sacristies continued.
With O'Connor's death in May 1927, construction had to be completed on the crypt where he would be laid to rest.
General work re-commenced in August 1927 and ended some months later with the installation of an Italian Botticino-marble altar purchased from the Benziger Brothers of New York City.
After nearly 95 years of planning and building, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was finally dedicated by Thomas Aloysius Boland, Archbisop of Newark, on October 19, 1954. During the ceremony, Boland received the pallium from then-Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Nuncio (delegate) to the United States.
During Pope John Paul II's visit to the United States in 1995, he celebrated evening prayer at the Cathedral. At this occasion, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was elevated to a basilica to become the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The Cathedral Basilica holds concerts open to the public throughout the year and it has the largest pipe organ ever built by the Schantz Organ Co. which includes 154 ranks playable from two consoles.
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89 Ridge Street
Newark, NJ 07104