St. Mary's Cathedral and Rectory

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St. Mary's Cathedral and Rectory

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, colloquially simply known as Saint Mary's Cathedral, is a historic church on 407 Spring Street, on the corner of Second Street, in Fall River, Massachusetts. It is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River. The cathedral, built in 1852, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, as St. Mary's Cathedral and Rectory. It is the oldest extant church building in the city of Fall River, and was one of the city's first Catholic parishes. Like several other cathedrals around the world, as well as a French parish in the city, the cathedral is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The church's cornerstone was laid on August 8, 1852 by Bishop John Fitzpatrick of the Diocese of Botson, on the site of the former Saint John the Baptist Church. It was dedicated by Bishop Fitzpatrick on December 16, 1855, and its steeple was finished in 1858. In 1872 the church became a part of the newly created Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. In 1901 it was consecrated by Bishop Matthew Harkins of Providence, and in 1904 it was named by Pope Pius X the cathedral church of the newly founded Diocese, its seat first held by Bishop William Stang.

The church and the entire steeple are stonework (save for the gilded cross at its 190-foot high apex), with a shingled roof. Its interior includes intricate woodwork, with some gilding above the sanctuary. It is attached to the rectory, chapels and diocesan offices to the rear by a colonnade. The cathedral is one of several grand Catholic churches built in the city during its heyday as an industrial center, including St. Anne Shrine, the Good Shepherd Church (formerly Saint Patrick's), Sacred Heart Church, Espirito Santo, and Saint Joseph's Church, as well as several that have since been lost, including St. Matthieu's in the North End (taken by eminent domain in the 1960s) and Notre Dame de Lourdes in the Flint, which was destroyed in one of the city's most famous conflagrations on May 11, 1982.