Filed Under Religion

The Cathedral of the Madeleine

The Cathedral of the Madeleine, constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, stands at the head of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Featuring neo-Gothic architecture and glorious stained glass windows, the cathedral is a beautiful place to visit and worship.

The Cathedral of the Madeleine, located in downtown Salt Lake City, is the only cathedral in the United States under the patronage of Saint Mary Magdalene. Construction on this venerable building began in 1899 and was completed in 1909. It was dedicated under the name Saint Mary’s Cathedral on August 15, 1909, but was given its present name under the leadership of Bishop Joseph Glass, the second bishop of Salt Lake City.

The stained glass windows are original to the Cathedral and were commissioned by Lawrence J. Scanlan, the first Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City. Designed by F.X. Zettler of the Royal Bavarian Institute in Munich, Germany, these windows tell the story of Christ’s life through what Catholics call the “Mysteries of the Rosary.” Scenes included are the annunciation with Gabriel and Mary, Mary visiting Elizabeth, Christ’s birth, Christ’s presentation at the temple to Simeon and Anna, the Resurrection, Christ’s ascension into heaven, the Assumption of Mary, and Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven. 

In addition to these scenes from the “Mysteries of the Rosary, moments  from Christ’s life between His presentation at the temple and His Resurrection are commemorated with stunning murals. These murals were completed in 1918 by artist Felix Lieftuchter. Combining Byzantine, Spanish Gothic, and modern art styles, the murals depict Christ teaching at the temple, a woman (portrayed here as Mary Magdalene) washing Christ’s feet, and Christ’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. A mural of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross stands above the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the Tabernacle. It is the focal point of the chapel. Christ is shown on the cross in a red robe, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit watching from above. Below Christ’s pierced feet are a pelican and her chicks. In Catholic iconography, the pelican symbolizes Christ’s sacrifice. Biblical figures and Catholic saints stand on either side of the crucified Christ, worshiping and praising the Lord. 

The Stations of the Cross were painted by Utah native Roger ‘Sam’ Wilson between 1992-1993. The Stations of the Cross commemorate Christ’s suffering and death. There are fourteen stations in all, each depicting a moment on His journey to Calvary. The Stations at the Cathedral of the Madeleine follow the revisions of the second Vatican Council, which took place between 1962-1965. This council helped to bridge the gap between Catholic tradition and the modern world. It made many changes to Catholic practices– one of the most dramatic of these was holding Mass in languages other than Latin. The updated Stations of the Cross are more in keeping with Biblical descriptions rather than oral tradition. Wilson’s rendition of the Stations blends Catholic iconography with an American Southwestern style. Flowers, animals, and other symbols are included to lend to the significance and power of each scene. 

The cathedral underwent heavy restoration projects between 1991-1993. The stained glass was carefully preserved. The altar and the baptismal font were re-positioned in accordance with the established traditions of the Vatican II Council. The organ was replaced, as were the Stations of the Cross. The floor of the Cathedral of the Madeleine is currently being restored. There are about four hundred regularly attending constituents, with about half of that number speaking Spanish as their first language. On weekdays, masses are held at 8:00 AM and 5:15 PM. Saturday masses are at 8:00 AM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM, with the latter exclusively in Spanish. Sunday worship times are at 8:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM (Spanish), and 6:00 PM. The Cathedral was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 11, 1971, and serves thousands of people annually. From practicing Catholics to those interested in theology or the Cathedral’s architecture, all are welcome. 


Church Interior
Church Interior Photograph taken by Isabella Holt.
Rose Window
Rose Window Photograph taken by Isabella Holt.
Modern Church Exterior
Modern Church Exterior Photograph taken by Isabella Holt.
Capilla Photograph taken by Isabella Holt.
Early 1900s Congregants Gathering
Early 1900s Congregants Gathering Photograph taken by Isabella Holt. Used with permission
Cathedral Construction Early 1900s
Cathedral Construction Early 1900s Photograph taken by Isabella Holt. Used with permission
Early 1900 Rose Window
Early 1900 Rose Window Photograph taken by Isabella Holt. Used with permission



Isabella Holt, Brigham Young University, “The Cathedral of the Madeleine,” Intermountain Histories, accessed July 22, 2024,