Peterís Roman Catholic Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Illinois
and serves the people of Belleville and the Catholic Diocese of
Belleville, which includes all of southern Illinois. In 1842 a parish was
established on a location to the east of the present cathedral that was
named St. Barnabas the Apostle, the name being changed five years later to
the Church of St. Peter. In 1863 a new, larger brick church was built on
the present site to accommodate the rapidly growing parish. In 1887 this
church became St. Peterís Cathedral and seat of the new Diocese of
Belleville and was nearly destroyed by fire in 1912 with only the exterior
brick walls remaining. The present cathedral was modeled in the English
Gothic style after the Cathedral of Exeter, one of the smaller but more
beautiful cathedrals in England. In 1956 the brick walls were refaced
with Winona splitface dolomite and trimmed with Indiana limestone. In 1966
St. Peterís Cathedral underwent a major renovation of the sanctuary and
saw the addition of the south end of the Cathedral bringing its seating
capacity to its present 1,270 people.
architecture characterizes any of the styles of medieval European architecture, in
particular those associated with cathedrals and churches, developed
between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Gothic style originated at the
abbey church of Saint-Denis near Paris by the Abbot Suger who wanted to
create a physical representation of Heavenly Jerusalem. This style
emphasizes verticality and features almost skeletal stone structures with
sharply pointed spires, cluster columns, ribbed vaults, pointed arches
using the ogive (S) shape, and sculptural detail. The focus of these
features were large stained glass windows that allowed more light to enter
than was possible with earlier architectural styles. In order to achieve this, flying
buttresses were used to enable high vaulted ceilings and slender columns by
preventing the walls from leaning outwards from the pressure of the vaults
and causing the structure to collapse. The architectural concept of the
Gothic cathedral with its loftiness and huge dimensions was to convey the
theological message of the great glory of God versus the smallness and
insignificance of man. St. Peterís Cathedral is an excellent place to
view an example of Gothic architecture in the St. Louis area and brochures
for self guided tours of the Cathedral can be found at the front entrance.
The Cathedral is rich with sculpture and stained glass (photo right) and
notable features include the north nave and baptistery, the Marian Shrine,
the south nave, and the sanctuary area.
St. Peter's Cathedral
9 am to 5 pm
There is no charge to visit St. Peterís Cathedral, although donations are appreciated.
Directions: St. Peterís Cathedral
is located in the downtown Belleville area 3 blocks south of Main Street
and 2 blocks west of Illinois Street (IL-159.)
N 38 30.646
W 89 59.274
Learn more about the Belleville area.
provides mass schedules and other information for St. Peter's Cathedral.