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Cathedral Basilica of
Saint Peter in Chains

The present cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains is the third for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Built in 1845, this cathedral, which honors the imprisoned Saint Peter, was extensively renovated and enlarged in 1957. Visit the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains website.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains


June 19, 1821

The Diocese of Cincinnati is established, and Edward Fenwick, O.P., is named the first bishop.

December 17, 1826

The new St. Peter Cathedral is dedicated on Sycamore Street between Sixth Street and Seventh Street.

May 12, 1833

John Baptist Purcell is named the second bishop of the Diocese of Cincinnati after Bishop Fenwick’s death in 1832.

December 1, 1840

A lot is purchased on Plum Street between Seventh Street and Eighth Street for the erection of the new cathedral.

May 20, 1841

The cornerstone is laid for the new cathedral. Then bishop, Archbishop Purcell said the “first and most urgent want of this diocese is a suitable cathedral.”

November 2, 1845

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is consecrated.

July 19, 1850

The Diocese of Cincinnati is elevated to the rank of a metropolitan see, along with the New York and New Orleans dioceses. St. Peter in Chains becomes a metropolitan cathedral.

August 7, 1855

The front portico is finished, completing the new cathedral.

December 1855

Gas lighting is installed in the cathedral.


The cathedral is closed for costly repairs, which include the addition of a grand colonnade and an arch to the main altar.


The cathedral undergoes a complete renovation, eliminating excessive ornamentation. The side sacristies are removed to enlarge the sanctuary, two stained glass windows are added, and marble enhancements replace the shapeless woodwork of the main altar.


Steam heating replaces “useless” hot air furnaces at a cost of $7,000.


Archbishop Purcell is the first bishop in the United States to celebrate his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. The cathedral is the site of a celebration that includes bishops from across the U.S.

July 11, 1883

Funeral Mass for Archbishop Purcell takes place at the cathedral.

July 8-10, 1890

The second Congress of American Colored Catholics is held at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral.


Electric lights are installed.


The tower clock is renovated, and the new organ (with bellows that run on electricity) is installed.

October 31, 1904

 Archbishop William Elder dies. Ten thousand people gather to witness the transfer of his body from Seton Hospital to the cathedral. His funeral was one of the largest and most distinguished gatherings of clergy ever assembled in Cincinnati.


Six hundred men attend a retreat at the cathedral prior to enlisting to serve in World War I.

November 1920

The cathedral celebrates its 75th anniversary.

October 1923

The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Cincinnati is celebrated at the cathedral.

January 1925

Cardinal Patrick Hayes of New York celebrates the funeral liturgy for Archbishop Henry K. Moeller.

August 12, 1925

George William Cardinal Mundelein presides at the installation of John T. McNicholas, O.P., as archbishop of Cincinnati.

August 1931

The Great Depression brings Catholics and non-Catholics together on Wednesday evenings and Thursday mornings in August for prayers for the unemployed and relief of the suffering.


The cathedral organizes a Red Cross unit to assist in relief efforts with the disastrous 1937 flood.


Cathedral status is transferred from St. Peter in Chains to St. Monica in Clifton Heights. St. Peter in Chains is now called The Old Cathedral.


Archbishop Karl Joseph Alter declares “we are going home,” beginning a five-year process of complete renovation and reconstruction of the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral.

February 24, 1957

Twelve new bells and one original bell for the cathedral spire are consecrated.

November 1, 1957

A new high altar and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel altars are consecrated.

November 3, 1957

After five years of renovations and expansion, St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is rededicated, beginning a week of special celebrations.

December 25, 1957

Archbishop Alter celebrated Christmas midnight Mass facing the congregation for the first time.

October 1, 1961

The Third Order of St. Francis sponsors a rally for interracial understanding at the cathedral.

June 26, 1962

The Cincinnati Beautiful Committee honors the cathedral as a “place of special beauty” in the city.

December 22, 1963

A citywide memorial service is held at the cathedral in honor of President John F. Kennedy.

November 29, 1964

Archbishop Alter celebrates Mass, inaugurating the use of English. The Mass was aired live on local television.

April 11, 1968

The cathedral hosts Cincinnati’s interfaith memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

October 2, 1969

Paul Leibold is installed as the archbishop of the Diocese of Cincinnati.

October 23, 1971

Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, apostolic delegate, is the principal celebrant of the pontifical Mass celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The archdiocesan synod is also promulgated at the same Mass.

June 1, 1972

Archbishop Leibold dies.

December 19, 1972

Joseph Bernardin is installed as archbishop of Cincinnati.

June 19, 1974

St. Teresa of Calcutta is presented with the Peace Award of the North American Federation of the Third Order of St. Francis at a ceremony celebrated at the cathedral.

June 5, 1975

Archbishop Bernardin reconsecrates the archdiocese to the Sacred Heart of Mary during a solemn Mass at the cathedral.

July 6, 1976

A pontifical Mass celebrating the bicentennial of the United States is held at the cathedral.

September 2, 1976

While serving as cardinal archbishop of Krakow, St. John Paul II visits the cathedral.

July 8, 1982

Archbishop Bernardin is transferred to Chicago.

December 20, 1982

Daniel Edward Pilarczyk is installed as archbishop of Cincinnati.

December 25, 1987

The cathedral begins an annual tradition of decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments representing each of the parishes in the archdiocese.

December 28, 1988

The cathedral hosts an interfaith service as part of Cincinnati’s bicentennial celebrations.

November 5, 1995

Archbishop Pilarczyk and other bishops with connections to the cathedral, including Archbishop Edward McCarthy (archbishop emeritus of Miami), celebrate Mass in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the cathedral’s consecration. 

June 16, 1996

Archbishop Pilarczyk and bishops representing the archdioceses and dioceses that formed from the original Archdiocese of Cincinnati territory celebrate a pontifical liturgy at the cathedral in observance of the 175th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

November 30, 1997

The cathedral seals one door to serve as the Holy Door for the upcoming Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

May 1998

Statues of angels that originally flanked the high altar of the cathedral from 1845–1951 are donated to the Cincinnati Art Museum. These statues are some of the first European sculptures to come to Cincinnati, making them an important part of the city’s artistic history.

January 21, 2000

Archbishop Pilarczyk celebrates a special liturgy in honor of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

December 7, 2008

 Dennis M. Schnurr is formally welcomed to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as coadjutor archbishop

July 1, 2017

Father Jan Schmidt is appointed pastor of the cathedral.

October 3, 2018

All day, visitors line the block for a chance to venerate relics of St. Padre Pio that are on special display at the cathedral.

December 8, 2018

The cathedral holds a special Mass to unveil a scale replica of Michaelangelo’s Pietà.

March 17, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public Masses are suspended at the cathedral.

March 27, 2020

The Mass of Christian burial for Archbishop Pilarczyk is held at the cathedral.