The History of Holy Rosary Cathedral
The history of Regina’s cathedral church began nearly 90 years ago, when Olivier Mathieu (1853—1929), former rector of Laval University in Québec and first Archbishop of Regina, turned the sod on the 13th Avenue site. The ceremony took place on June 1, 1912, just a month before the Regina Cyclone devastated large parts of the city’s downtown core. Smith Brothers and Wilson built the Romanesque edifice, designed by Montréal architect J. Fortin and modelled after churches in northern France, for the then considerable sum of $135,000. The first Mass in the basement of the partially completed structure took place at 8:00 a.m. on December 8, 1912, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and was celebrated by the cathedral’s first rector, Fr David Gillies.
On June 30, 1913, a little more than a year after the sod turning, nearly 2000 Regina Catholics and interested citizens gathered in front of the partially built cathedral to witness the blessing of the building’s cornerstone by the Apostolic Delegate (papal ambassador) to Canada. The cathedral was completed in 1917, and since then eighteen rectors, as well as a large number of curates and assistants, have served the parish. Among recent cathedral priests are Fr James Weisgerber (who left in 1990 to take up appointment as General Secretary to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa, and who in July 2000 was named Archbishop of Winnipeg by Pope John Paul II), Fr John Weckend (rector from 1990 to 1998), Fr Stephen Bill (rector from 1998-99), and Fr Louis Kubash, who in August 1999 was named rector by Archbishop Peter Mallon.
Dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Regina’s cathedral is one of the province’s most beautiful and imposing churches, and has in recent decades given its name to a district of the city’s West end, the Cathedral area. It stands as eloquent testimony to the faith, generosity, and hope for the future of Regina’s early Catholics. It measures 200’ by 90’, and features two tall, elegant spires pointing heavenward. In the east tower is a large bell donated in 1915 by the parish Altar Guild. The cathedral’s dozens of beautiful stained glass windows were completed in 1949/50 by the artisan André Rault of Rennes, France, who remarked that of all his work, these windows gave him the most pleasure.
Changes in liturgical emphasis and aesthetic direction have led to several major renovations of the cathedral interior, most recently that of 1976/7, following a fire at the building’s south end, and again in 1992/3. Notable features include the Archbishop’s cathedra, the chair from which a cathedral church takes its name and which symbolizes the unity of the entire diocese around the bishop. The present cathedra dates from the time of Archbishop Mathieu. Also of note is the large mural in the apse (the curved southern wall of the sanctuary). Depicting the Five Glorious Mysteries recounted in the rosary, this imposing work of ceramic art, conceived and executed by Regina’s Lorraine Malach, was commissioned in 1988 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Regina. In the gallery above the main doors at the cathedral’s north end is the McGuigan Organ, named in honour of the Regina humanitarian and educator Sr Marion McGuigan. Built by Casavant Frères of Québec, the organ comprises more than 3,100 pipes. Praised as one of the finest cathedral organs in the country, it is regularly played in concert by distinguished musicians from across North America and Europe.
Holy Rosary Cathedral is, therefore, both a visible symbol of and witness to the Catholic presence in Regina, and one of the city’s outstanding architectural landmarks. It would, however, be little more than a museum unless it were a living faith community. It is the mother church — seat of the bishop and second parish home — of more than 125,000 southern Saskatchewan Catholics. Nearly 500 services of worship are held within its walls each year, from elaborate diocesan liturgies, episcopal ceremonies, priestly ordinations, and state funerals to simple eucharists with only a few dozen present. The warm sense of community, the dynamic preaching, the special emphasis on youth through children’s liturgy, the music of choirs and organ — all are signs of a bustling city parish with a distinctive liturgical role and a special mission as mother church to much of the province’s south. Numerous parish ministries, including Stephen Ministry, marriage preparation teams, outreach to young people, the Catholic Women’s League, and the Knights of Columbus, carry out a vigorous program of activity. Far from being a museum, Holy Rosary Cathedral is a vibrant Christian community that gives thanks for the generosity and foresight of its founders, and looks forward to the future with hope and faith.
|1910||The Archdiocese of Regina is established.|
|1911||November 11 - O.E. Mathieu is installed as the First Archbishop of Regina
The Cathedral is created as a parish.
|1912||June - the construction of the Holy Rosary Cathedral begins.
December 8 - the first Mass is said in the Cathedral's completed auditorium.
|1913||June 29 - the Cathedral's cornerstone is blessed.
November 23 - the Cathedral is dedicated.
|1928||The interior of the Cathedral is redecorated.|
|1930||J.C. McGuigan is installed as the Second Archbishop of Regina.
December - the Casavant pipe organ is inaugurated.
|1930-1933||Rev. Charles Maillard paints mural of "Mary, Queen of Heaven" .|
|1935||September 25 - P.J. Monahan is installed as the Third Archbishop of Regina.|
|1947||May 6 - the death of Archbishop Monahan.|
|1948||M.C. O'Neill installed as the Fourth Archbishop of Regina.|
|1951||The interior of the Cathedral is redecorated.
Andre Rault of Rennes, France installs 43 stained glass windows.
|1963||A statue of Archbishop Mathieu originated by Father Athol Murray.|
|1968||The interior of the Cathedral is renovated and redecorated.|
|1973||C.A. Halpin is installed as the Fifth Archbishop of Regina.|
|1976||April 12 - disastrous fire in south end of the Cathedral.|
|1988||Lorraine Mallach creates and installs a ceramic mural "The Five Glorious Mysteries.|
|1992||The interior of the Cathedral is renovated and redecorated.|
|1993||May 19 - the "McGuigan Casavant Organ" is inaugurated and dedicated.|
|1994||April 16 - the death of Archbishop Halpin.|
|1995||July 11 - P.J. Mallon installed as the Sixth Archbishop of Regina.|
|2000||The Cathedral celebrates the Jubilee Year of the Church.|
|2005||March 30 - Retirement of Archbishop Mallon.|
|2005||June 21 - D.J. Bohan is installed as the Seventh Archbishop of Regina.|
|2016||January 15 - the death of Archbishop Bohan.|