The first cornerstone was laid in 1858, and on May 25, 1879, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was finally opened and blessed by then-archbishop John Cardinal McCloskey. Still under its 175 million dollar renovation, St. Pat’s is expected to be fully restored by September 2015 when the Pope visits–making now a perfect time for you to visit yourself and take a free guided tour, offered at 10am on varying dates. For a calendar of tour dates offered, click here. Until then, rev up your trivia arsenal with these fun 10 facts we learned while touring the cathedral:
2. St. Pat’s receives an average of 5 million visitors per year.
3. The most popular saint visited at the cathedral? That would be St. Anthony, the patron saint of finding lost and stolen articles.
4. The seating capacity in the main cathedral is 2,400 worshipers.
5. There are 19 bells that ring in the cathedral, and each is named after a different saint. Today the bells are electrified but prior to 1952 there was an actual bell ringer who climbed up to make the melodies.
6. A record is kept of everyone who says “I do” in St. Pat’s. On April 3, 1920, author Francis Scott Fitzgerald married his bride, Zelda Sayre. He was 23. She was 19.
7. For a quieter, more intimate place to worship walk behind the main cathedral to the “secret cathedral” which seats only 200 worshipers.
8. In order to get married at St. Pat’s (talk about a big white wedding!) you or your groom must be a parishioner living in the Archdiocese of New York. The same rule applies for baptisms.
9. Love music? There is a specific calendar just for free musical events held at St. Pat’s.
10. A weekly luncheon is held by St. Pat’s to support its older members, with lunch provided by notable local restaurants (21 Club, PJ Clarkes, The St. Regis.) To volunteer with this program and visit with the seniors, contact Roberta Shea, Director of Volunteer Services and Our Neighbor Program, at 212.355.2749.
p.s. in case you missed it, here’s 15 completely free guided tours in NYC!