Seen from a distance the Cathedral of St. Helena is impressive, but when you get inside, impressive doesn’t begin to convey the beauty of the neo-Gothic Cathedral.  If your travel plans call for a visit to the area, it’s worth the time to stop off to check it out.

St Helena Cathedral in MontanaLocated in Helena, Montana, the Cathedral is modeled after the Votive Church of the Sacred Heart in Vienna, Austria.  It was opened in 1914 (when the first service were held), but wasn’t finished, however, until 1924.   Although the Cathedral was seriously damaged in an earthquake in 1935, it was reconstructed preserving both the impressive architecture and adding earthquake-proofing construction.  It still maintains an impressive and imposing presence in Helena, attracting worshippers and travelers alike.

As you walk up its stone stairs, take a moment to look behind you at the downtown view of the city.  Then turn back to enter the cathedral, looking up at the domed ceiling and all around at the pillars and stained glass windows.  The 59 stained glass windows came from Bavaria, and include a set of 37 that tell a story starting with the fall of Adam and Eve and continuing on to the years of the Church in the early 1900’s.

Since its repair after the earthquake, the cathedral has been completely restored and renovated, including adding some gilding in the interior.  It continues to be carefully and lovingly maintained, including painstaking upkeep and repairs to the stained glass windows.  Recent renovations have added a gift shop to help support the cathedral.

With a little luck, your visit will be complete with music from its pipe organ.  The organ is as impressive to view as it is to hear, and if you’re fortunate to have it playing while you’re there, take the time to sit and soak up its beautiful music.

The Cathedral is a place of worship, and all are welcome to attend.  Check the mass schedule for details.

Location:  530 North Ewing Street, Helena, Montana

Hours:  The Cathedral is open for viewing Monday – Friday, 7 am – 6 pm; Saturday, 8:30 am – 6 pm, and Sunday, 7:30 am – 6 pm.  Summer hours may be shorter.  Guided tours are given Tuesday – Thursday at during the summer.  Reservations are required for tours at other times of the year

Admission:  Free, although donations are gratefully accepted.

Photo credit:  Shea via flickr