Spokane, Washington, a city nestled in the picturesque landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, is home to a remarkable array of cathedrals and historic churches that showcase the region’s rich spiritual and architectural heritage.
With diverse religious traditions represented and a fascinating history of settlement and growth, Spokane’s religious institutions offer visitors and residents a unique opportunity to explore the city’s cultural tapestry.
Since I haven’t spent much time in Spokane, I set out to visit the cathedrals of the city and learn just what each one had to offer (mostly from a non-religious standpoint).
Here’s what I found!
Cathedrals In Spokane Washington
While some might disagree with me lumping all of these in as “cathedrals of Spokane” I still plan to do so and don’t mean any offense. All of them are unique and beautiful places of worship.
Let’s start with one of the best-known.
Cathedral Of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Spokane. It is the seat of the Diocese of Spokane and serves as the mother church for the Catholic community in the eastern part of the state.
The cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, a title given to the Virgin Mary in honor of her apparitions in Lourdes, France, in 1858. The church was originally established as a parish in 1881, before being designated as a cathedral when the Diocese of Spokane was created in 1913.
The current structure was built between 1903 and 1905 under the direction of architects Preusse & Zittel in a Romanesque Revival style, featuring a cruciform plan, rounded arches, and a central nave flanked by two side aisles. The exterior is made of brick, with a prominent bell tower and a rose window over the main entrance.
The interior of the cathedral is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, and other religious artwork. The high altar and sanctuary are particularly impressive, with detailed woodwork and a large painting of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes is an active place of worship and offers regular Masses, Confessions, and other sacraments. In addition, it hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as concerts, lectures, and community gatherings, making it a significant cultural and spiritual center in Spokane.
How To Visit
The cathedral is located at 1115 W Riverside Ave. There is Mass every day of the week but you should check the schedule here before going.
While the cathedral doesn’t offer tours to the public, you can schedule one by calling if you have a specific purpose.
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is an Episcopal cathedral. It serves as the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane and is a prominent place of worship for the Anglican community in the region. The cathedral is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and the author of the Gospel of John.
The current cathedral building was designed by noted architect Harold C. Whitehouse in the Gothic Revival style, featuring pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses. Construction of the cathedral began in 1925 and continued in several stages over the years. The building was consecrated in 1954, but the final completion of the structure, including the addition of the bell tower, took place in 1961.
The exterior of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is made of sandstone and features a prominent bell tower with a carillon of 49 bells, one of the largest in the western United States. The entrance of the cathedral is adorned with a tympanum depicting St. John the Evangelist holding a quill and a scroll, symbolizing his role as the author of the Gospel of John.
The interior of the cathedral boasts stunning stained glass windows, including a particularly impressive rose window above the entrance. The high altar, the choir stalls, and the wood-carved pulpit are all examples of fine craftsmanship. The cathedral’s organ, which was installed in 1963, is a significant instrument with more than 4,000 pipes.
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is an active place of worship, offering regular services, including Holy Eucharist, Morning and Evening Prayer, and other liturgical celebrations. It also hosts concerts, lectures, and community events throughout the year, making it an important spiritual and cultural center in Spokane.
How To Visit
The grounds of The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist are open for wandering any time of day for those who want to get up close to the cathedral on their own terms.
Also, tours are available during weekly office hours and all are invited to attend the Sunday Mass (which you can learn more about here).
St. Aloysius Parish (Gonzaga)
St. Aloysius Catholic Church is a historic Roman Catholic parish. The church is part of the Jesuit-affiliated Gonzaga University campus and serves both the university community and the local parishioners. It is named after St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a 16th-century Italian Jesuit and patron saint of Catholic youth.
The current church building was designed by architect Julius A. Zittel in the Neo-Gothic style, featuring pointed arches, a cruciform plan, and buttresses. Construction began in 1909 and was completed in 1911. The church’s exterior is made of red brick with terracotta trim, and it boasts a prominent central tower with a steeple that is visible from various points in the city.
The interior of St. Aloysius Catholic Church is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows, including a large rose window above the entrance. The high altar and sanctuary are particularly striking, featuring a reredos with detailed woodwork and statues of various saints, including St. Aloysius Gonzaga himself. The church is also known for its beautiful paintings, sculptures, and other religious artworks that contribute to its spiritual atmosphere.
St. Aloysius Catholic Church is an active place of worship, offering regular Masses, Confessions, and other sacraments. It also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as concerts, lectures, and community gatherings, making it a significant spiritual and cultural center in Spokane. In addition to serving the local community, the church plays an essential role in the spiritual life of Gonzaga University, offering masses, retreats, and other events specifically tailored for the university’s students, faculty, and staff.
How To Visit
The public is welcome to visit when the parish is open as well as attend Mass (schedule here).
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is a vibrant and historic Greek Orthodox parish located in Spokane, Washington, United States. The church serves the spiritual needs of the Greek Orthodox community in the region and is under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The current church building was designed in the Byzantine architectural style, which is characteristic of traditional Greek Orthodox churches. This style features a central dome, rounded arches, and a distinct layout that focuses on the sanctuary and altar. The exterior is made of brick, and the church’s prominent dome serves as a landmark in the Spokane area.
The interior of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is adorned with beautiful Byzantine-style icons, frescoes, and religious artwork that reflect the rich history and theology of the Eastern Orthodox faith. The central focal point of the church is the iconostasis, a screen adorned with icons that separates the nave from the sanctuary. The sanctuary houses the Holy Altar, where the Divine Liturgy and other sacraments are celebrated.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is an active place of worship, offering regular services, including the Divine Liturgy, Vespers, and other liturgical celebrations. In addition to its spiritual offerings, the church is well-known for its annual Greek Festival, a popular event that celebrates Greek culture, cuisine, music, and dance. The festival serves as an opportunity for the broader Spokane community to learn about and experience the rich traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church and Hellenic heritage.
As a center of Orthodox life in Spokane, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church also hosts religious education programs, youth activities, and various community outreach initiatives, making it an important spiritual and cultural institution in the region.
How To Visit
The parish is welcoming for all those that wish to attend services but be sure to check the up-to-date schedule here.
You can also check out their Facebook page for a current look at what’s happening before your visit.
Religion In Spokane
So what’s my impression? Well, first off, Spokane holds religion must dearer than the western part of the state where I’m from.
Which led me to wonder, why? What religions are in Spokane and why are there so many devout followers of the varying options?
Let’s start with the most obvious and prominent of the religions in Spokane: Christianity.
Christianity is by far the most prominent religion found in Spokane. There are dozens of different churches throughout the city – from large megachurches to small neighborhood churches – representing many different denominations.
Islam is another major religion represented in Spokane. The Islamic Center of Spokane is one the main places for Muslims to practice their faith. The center has been around since 1992 and offers classes on Islamic teachings as well as prayer services on Fridays.
The Jewish community also has a strong presence in Spokane. Congregation Emanu-El is the largest synagogue in the area and offers religious services as well as educational programs for people interested in learning more about Judaism.
Spokane also has several other places of worship representing various faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Baha’i Faith among others. These religious centers offer a place for believers to connect with their communities and practice their faith with others who share similar beliefs.
But Why Are There So Many Cathedrals In Spokane?
In short, Spokane has a rich history of religious and cultural diversity, which has contributed to the abundance of cathedrals and old churches in the city.
Here are some factors that helpful parish workers explained to me which helped me to understand the situation:
- Historical context: Spokane was founded in the late 19th century during a time of rapid growth and expansion in the American West. As settlers arrived in the region, they brought their religious beliefs and practices with them. Churches and cathedrals were established to serve the spiritual needs of the growing population and became important community centers. As different religious denominations established their presence in the area, they built their own places of worship, often reflecting the architectural styles popular at the time.
- Cultural diversity: Spokane has been home to a diverse population throughout its history, with immigrants from various European countries and other regions of the world settling in the city. Each community brought its own religious traditions, leading to the establishment of churches and cathedrals representing various Christian denominations, including Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, and various Protestant denominations.
- Regional significance: Spokane has long served as a regional center for eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana, drawing people from the surrounding areas for work, trade, and other activities. As a result, the city has historically been a hub for religious activity, and several denominations have chosen to establish their diocesan or regional headquarters there. This has led to the construction of cathedrals and larger churches to serve as the seats of these dioceses or regional organizations.
- Preservation efforts: Many of the historic churches and cathedrals in Spokane have been preserved and maintained over the years, thanks to the efforts of local communities, preservation societies, and religious organizations. These efforts have helped to ensure that the architectural and cultural heritage of the city is not lost to development or neglect.
In summary, the presence of many cathedrals and old churches in Spokane can be attributed to the city’s historical context, cultural diversity, regional significance, and preservation efforts. These institutions serve as important landmarks, reflecting the city’s rich history and the religious traditions of its diverse population.
In conclusion, Spokane, Washington, boasts a rich tapestry of religious and architectural heritage, reflected in its numerous cathedrals and historic churches.
The city’s diverse religious landscape can be attributed to its historical context, cultural diversity, regional significance, and preservation efforts.
With a wide array of Christian denominations represented, as well as other religious faiths, Spokane offers a unique opportunity for visitors and residents alike to explore its spiritual and cultural richness. These remarkable institutions not only serve as places of worship but also as important cultural and community centers, ensuring that the city’s spiritual and architectural legacy continues to thrive.