Bishop Robert Lynch of Saint Petersburg, FL recently announced on his blog that the Cathedral of Saint Jude will be closed for renovations through May 2013.
The current cathedral was dedicated in the summer of 1963, between the first and second sessions of the Second Vatican Council. St. Jude’s served as a regular parish church until the establishment of the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 1968 elevated it to the status of diocesan cathedral.
As it stood, the cathedral was a rather interesting mid-century structure marked by both architectural and liturgical transition. The building was of a traditional cruciform shape, surmounted by a dome, yet clearly demonstrating stylized mid-century idioms. The sanctuary featured a freestanding altar and predella underneath a large, architectural baldachin surrounded by pews on three sides.
Bishop Lynch explains that the current renovation of the cathedral stems largely from inadequate mechanical systems, accessibility issues, and liturgical considerations.
The renovation will bring greater emphasis to the “liturgical centers” of the altar, ambo, cathedra, font, and tabernacle. The renewed interior is certainly designed in the spirit of the original structure, yet it strengthens the celebration of the liturgy through the creation of new, prominent liturgical furnishings of dignified materials.
As church architecture becomes increasingly polarized, the Saint Petersburg’s cathedral renovation represents a pleasing middle ground. The renewed space is light and uplifting, yet providing a sense of dignity and solemnity: a fitting home for cathedral liturgies.
Current cathedral photos & artistic renderings of the renovation here.
Cathedral site with renovation background and updates here.
Chase Becker is a Liturgical Studies student at Saint John’s School of Theology•Seminary in Collegeville, MN.