A Brief History

History of the Cathedral

Henry Benjamin Whipple
Click here for a You Tube video of the History of the Cathedral which is one part of a video walking tour of Faribault commisioned by the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission and created by the EdinboroughPress.
James Lloyd Breck
The “cathedral idea” was in the air at the time Henry Benjamin Whipple became Minnesota’s first Episcopal bishop. James Lloyd Breck had written about it often in his letters. A cathedral was to be the Bishop’s church, at the center of institutions of learning and a network of ministry. When Whipple settled in Faribault, a parish church, two schools and several congregations in nearby villages had been started. In the spring of 1862, Mrs. Breck died, and on July 16 of that year Whipple laid the cornerstone of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour as a memorial to her. According to Whipple, this was the first Episcopal church in the US to be built as a cathedral. Money was scarce, and it would not be completed and consecrated until June 24, 1869. Old Bishop Kemper, who would die the next year, was present. In the beginning, the Cathedral was used by the schools–Shattuck (a military academy for boys), St. Mary’s Hall (a school for girls), and Seabury (a seminary)–as well as the Parish of the Good Shepherd. Whipple died in 1901, and was buried beneath the Cathedral altar. The next year, a tower with a peal of ten bells was dedicated in his memory. Whipple’s successor, Samuel Cook Edsall, based his work in Minneapolis. However, the “Bishop’s Church” remained in Faribault until November 12, 1941, when St. Mark’s, Minneapolis, also became a cathedral. Both cathedrals continue to host diocesan events.

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