Saturday, November 26, 2011

Got off the train in the wrong city.

The old high altar in Boise's Cathedral of St John the Evangelist has long puzzled many people for it's two flanking pillars, each topped with what appears to be a jar, or a vase.

The explanation is that the altar was built by a company that at the same time built the high altar for Salt Lake City's Cathedral of the Madeleine. Both were shipped west on the same train, but Boise's was unloaded in Salt Lake City, and theirs went to Boise! Hence, Boise's high altar has the "alabastar jar of costly spikenard" motif to remind us of Mary Magdalene's unself-conscious and generous anointing of our Lord before his death.

The high altar that was built for the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Boise, was installed in the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. It apparently fell victim to a post Vatican II wreckovation, I understand it was destroyed. It has, however, survived in photographic evidence (picture is from 1909).

So Boise, here's what we missed:

This copyrighted picture is from Utah State History collections, here

PS: Not only did Utah loose the high altar, even the stained glass windows behind the altar are gone, as this current picture attests:


  1. The old high altar of The Cathedral of the Madeleine wasn't destroyed. When the second bishop of Salt Lake (Bishop Glass) had the cathedral remodeled around 1917 they took out the high altar
    and it was shipped to Lake Charles, Louisiana. You are right on the stained glass though nobody knows were those went.

  2. Ah, another clue! Thank you!

  3. This pisses me off something fierce! Seriously, what is wrong with people? Can't the comrads and commissars just leave well-enough alone?

    I hate being stuck in Utah with no-place beautiful and transcendent to worship the Creator of the Universe. And never being edified except by the Mexicans (because you know white people are never in the Confession lines). Some of us afterall are plain old bottom of the barrel working-stiffs, who if they had no bad luck they'd have no luck at all. The last thing I want to do on a weekend is go on a wild-goose chase finding where the put the relics and the tabernacle and wonder if the holy water is well... actual holy water that had a venerable hand and blessing put into it or just more of the same tap-water waved hello to and politely spoken about.

    More on the fonts. When are they going to put them back. I miss having holy-water fonts.

    Yeah, I got mountains, big whoop!

  4. Here's the Cathedral that currently has the High Altar. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Lake Charles, Louisiana

  5. Thank you so much for the links!

    1. I've also learned that the stained glass windows from the Salt Lake City Cathedral were purportedly removed and shipped to Boise, but it remains unknown what happened to them.

    2. Here is an article for the Intermountain Catholic that talks about the missing stained glass

      Hope this helps