Saturday, 9 July
Saturday was going to be a lot of time driving, with 300 miles planned, but broken equally.
The cathedral and former cathedral most western in Kansas were in Dodge City, and I’d then be heading north and east to Salina. The beer and wings hadn’t really agreed with me overnight, triggering three trips to the head, so I didn’t rest as much as I’d like. Awakening at 8:30, out my window was a farmers and craft market, so once I was packed and had my banana, I grabbed my camera and wandered through the stalls for a bit. After filling the fuel tank, US 50 west took me most of the way, with slowdowns through a number of smaller towns. Of course, just east of Dodge, there was a long one-lane kerfuffle of construction.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the first Roman Catholic cathedral consecrated in the third millennium. Appearing at a distance a bit like Darth Vader looking out from a redoubt, octagonal in footprint, the internal layout is a church in the round. A large narthex as I entered from the semicircular parking lot brought me to the Paschal candle in front of the large cross-shaped holy water font. Redwood beams supported the vault, which is lined with similar wood. Two slits of windows between the layers of the ceiling admit some light. The octagonal exterior is reflected in a hung lighting ring over the circular predella in the center. A wedding was planned, so flowers hung at pew ends and in front of the altar table. Interestingly for me, the bishop’s throne, the cathedra, is just a simple armed wooden chair, with his crosier in a stand alongside. Against a back wall faced in stone, a tabernacle trimmed in the same red wood was freestanding on a stone plinth.
The Stations of the Cross were very interesting. Cast sculptures are inset in the stone walls around the periphery. Very dark, they don’t photograph well, but the intensity is amazing. Several saints are honored with paintings off to the side, and again in the narthex. A small prayer chapel dedicated to the patron has numerous bouquets of flowers around the shrine. A second chapel with a similar open octagonal footprint and stone walls looked to be set for daily Mass. Outside the entry stands a 4-story belltower, faced in a sandstone material.
Leaving the outskirts for downtown, I sought out the old cathedral, the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Elevated to cathedral status in 1951, it lost that status in 2001. Sitting on a corner just outside the downtown, it is a small sandstone-colored building with a carved stone and wooden doorway, adjacent to a school. The rose window above the entrance is a modern representation of the Sacred Heart in grays, browns and blues, and sits above organ pipes in the loft. Above the main floor wainscotting, the stained-glass windows are in a similar style, featuring a single saint, with other pastels.
An arch at the altar end depicts Calvary, with a wooden altar table and wooden plinth for the tabernacle. When I entered, a woman was approaching the altar on her knees, while a man prayed the rosary on his keens at the steps to the sanctuary. All in all, I found it a dark and slightly depressing visit.
Driving out through downtown, I kept an eye out for an interesting dining option, but most everything was chains, so I continued back through the construction and US50 until I headed northerly on 56 to 235 into Salina. Both cathedrals are within throwing distance, so I chanced to enter Christ Cathedral first. The priest was preparing for 5pm Saturday service, so we chatted a bit until he had to continue his preparations. Then I walked to Sacred Heart Cathedral where I was able to get all my inside photos and then return to Christ Cathedral for the service. Then I returned to Sacred Heart to attend the remainder of the 5:30 Mass.
Christ Cathedral is a small stone church, a bit foreshortened, with the interior walls the rough-finished blocks of stone. With the classic cruciform shape, the Saturday evening Mass was offered for 4 of us in the smaller chapel in the right transept. Behind a rood screen, the quire has carved stalls for the dean, bishop, clergy and choir, as well as the organ console.
Elegant stained-glass windows run around the church, with a set of 5 above and behind the altar, with most displaying elements from the Gospels.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is much larger and newer. The narthex, or entry space, is nearly a building unto itself, after entering through a pair of double doors with a large crucifix between. What was becoming standard, the holy water font / baptismal font stood inside at the entry, a large cross with blue tiling and black stone top. The nave is a long boxy space with pews set on either side of the central aisle and Ionic columns without capitals down the left side.
Opposite, tall narrow modern stained-glass windows in vibrant colors depicted a saint, a church figure, and geometrics. Up a half dozen polished black marble steps from the nave floor, the altar table stands in front of a bowed recess of gold, with a crucifix over the padded wooden cathedra.
After my second service of the evening, I headed to my lodgings, the Village Inn on Broadway. A simple motel, my room was well away from the street. Dining for Miles had a single option, in Abilene, so I opted for a biker bar a short walk up the road. Maggie Mae’s was a dark space with multiple pool tables. I found a table with enough light so that I could journal the day’s entry while having a Blue Moon with my tater tots and Philly steak. Fortunately, the motel was fairly quiet, so I had a good night.