There are not many buildings in Vancouver like the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Great on West 12th Street. The pointed arches of the church, the steep gabled roofs and stained glass windows stand out among the modern brick and glass office buildings and tall buildings in the city center.
Amy Parent, whose official title is pastoral assistant for the formation of the faith, but who describes herself as a coordinator of religious education, treated about 20 members of the Angora Tourism Club and guests with some of the church’s history before taking them on a tour. of ecclesiastical sacred art and treasures.
Built in 1885, St. James’s Cathedral is an example of Gothic Revival architecture. The architectural style, which reached its peak in the early to mid-19th century, was often used in churches, schools, and even rural homes. Its richly decorated, intricate styles are inspired by medieval design and are a remarkable departure from previously popular styles inspired by ancient Greece and Rome.
“The Catholic population in 1820 was 200,000 in this area. In a period of about 30 years, it has grown by one million more than that, and then to about 1.6 million in the 1950s, “said Parent. “We had a huge influx of people coming here.”
Why did so many Catholics come to Vancouver? A parent said the existence of an existing church – the smaller St. James’s Church, built at Fort Vancouver in 1846 – was inconvenient, but there was another reason.
“They also came to explore the wildlife of the Northwest Pacific,” said Parent.
One of the most frequently asked questions of the parent is: What is a protocathedral? She explained that “proto” meant that it was a former cathedral.
“In 1907, Bishop O’De moved the cathedral to Seattle,” said Parent, which also meant moving the cornerstone of the church to Seattle. “It’s sad he had to be relocated, but he was smart because Seattle really was a lot bigger than Vancouver.
Elements seen during the tour include dozens of works of art brought by the founder, Bishop AMA Blanche, from his travels to raise money for the church. Among them were several paintings (later found to have been painted in Mexico on vegetable sacks), statues and clothing.
There is one element that many who attend the church will not see – a 33-star American flag found crushed in a corner during one of the renovations. The 33-star version became the official flag of the United States on July 4, 1859, following Oregon’s accession to the Union. A parent said the flag was not among the sacred objects displayed in the church because it was a secular rather than a religious object.
A trip to Vancouver to visit a former cathedral may not seem like the right choice for a touring club, but for club president Craig Holt, it was a great day trip.
He said he especially liked being able to climb the spiral staircase to see the church organ and trumpets, as well as the former bell room, where a handful of orphans were housed in the late 19th century.
“I’m surprised they didn’t have bells,” Holt said.
Whereas the church used to have bells, the tower now has an electronic bell system. One of the original bells is now outside the church.
Holt said he grew up in Chicago and often visited Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. He also attends the University of California, Berkeley, well known for its carillon bells, which helps encourage his interest in them.
The Angora Hiking Club – based in Astoria, Oregon – will celebrate its 102nd anniversary on July 4th. As the name suggests, many of the club’s adventures revolve around hiking, whether it’s a city walk along the coastline or tackling the trail from Fort to Sea at Fort Clatsop. But the club’s adventures are not limited to tourism. Past activities include skiing, horseback riding, swimming, mushroom identification and more.
Rudy Fruit and his wife, Maria, left their home in Ridgefield for the tour after seeing an article in the newspaper.
“I’ve always heard the name Proto Cathedral and wondered what a Protocathedral is,” said Rudy Fruit. “I’ve read about this church several times, so it was time.”
Fruit said he and his wife had recently returned from a trip to England, where they visited several cathedrals.
“Why do we go all the way there? That’s wonderful, “he said.
“I heard about it and thought it would be a fantastic thing to just get to know Vancouver, what’s in it,” said Vancouver resident Penny Slater.