Gothic Pride: The Story of Building a Great Cathedral in Newark

Gothic Pride: The Story of Building a Great Cathedral in Newark

Gothic Pride: The Story of Building a Great Cathedral in Newark

Gothic Pride: The Story of Building a Great Cathedral in Newark


Newark's Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is one of the United States' greatest cathedrals and most exceptional Gothic Revival buildings. Rising from Newark's highest ground and visible for miles, it spectacularly evokes its historic models. Gothic Pride sets Sacred Heart in the context of American cathedral building and, blending diverse fields, accounts for the complex circumstances that produced it.

Calling upon a wealth of primary sources, Brian Regan describes in a compelling narrative the cathedral's almost century-long history. He traces the project to its origins in the late 1850s and the great expectations held by the project's prime movers--all passionate about Gothic architecture and immensely proud of Newark--that never wavered despite numerous setbacks and challenges. Construction did not begin until 1898 and, when completed in 1954, the cathedral became New Jersey's largest church--and the most expensive Catholic church ever built in America. During Pope John Paul II's visit to the United States in 1995, he celebrated evening prayer at the Cathedral. On that occasion, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was elevated to a basilica to become the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Meticulously researched, Gothic Pride brings to life the people who built, contributed to, and worshipped in Sacred Heart, recalling such remarkable personalities as George Hobart Doane, Jeremiah O'Rourke, Gonippo Raggi, and Archbishop Thomas Walsh. In many ways, the cathedral's story is a lens that lets us look at the history of Newark itself--its rise as an industrial city and its urban culture in the nineteenth century; its transformation in the twentieth century; its immigrants and the profound effects of their cultures, especially their religion, on American life; and the power of architecture to serve as a symbol of community values and pride..


Newark's Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is an exceptional example of American church building, and the long, important cathedral-building venture that it represents carries many distinctions. Its early leaders were the first American cathedral builders to search abroad for an architect and also the first Catholic cathedral patrons to conduct a formal architectural competition. After many challenges, when later generations finished and opened Sacred Heart in 1954, they helped to complete the largest church in New Jersey and the most expensive Catholic church ever built in the United States. and from the first intimations of the project in the late 1850s to the cathedral’s completion almost a century later, it significantly reflects evolving social, economic, cultural, and religious circumstances.

A cathedral serves as the principal church of a diocese and is, literally, the place for the seat of its bishop. (Cathedrals serve an entire diocese, not just the city where they are located and for which they may be named.) When founded in 1853, the Diocese of Newark comprised all of New Jersey. the state’s extraordinary development is an essential factor in Sacred Heart’s history. Evolving business conditions and transportation modes and systems, exponential population increases, and the concomitant growth of cities, towns, and rural areas momentously changed the character of the diocese as much as other aspects of regional life throughout the cathedral project’s span. For the Catholic Church this meant continual adaptation. It also prompted several administrative subdivisions by which new dioceses were carved out of the old statewide Diocese of Newark; one of these, in 1937, raised Newark to an archdiocese.

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