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St. Peter in Chains Cathedral

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

Bishop John Purcell of Cincinnati decided to build a cathedral in Greek Revival style. The architect copied details from several classical Greek buildings, including Horologium (the Tower of Winds) of Adronikos Cyrrhestes, and the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at Athens.

Within the cathedral the sanctuary is dominated by a mosaic of Christ seated in Glory. With his hands raised in blessing, he gives the keys of authority to Peter. To the left, Peter is shown imprisoned in chains in Jerusalem; to the right, he is imprisoned at the Mamertine prison in Rome with Paul. In the center is a quotation from the Acts of the Apostles: “Peter was being kept in prison…bound with chains” (12:5,6). As a complete architectural unit, the mosaic is one of the largest in the United States.

To the left of the altar is the archbishop’s cathedra or chair, the sign of his teaching authority in the archdiocese. It is because the archbishop’s cathedral is here that the building gets its designation as cathedral.

Archbishop John Baptist Lamy was ordained a bishop here on November 24, 1850. He was immortalized in Willa Cather’s novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop” and in Paul Horgan’s “Lamy of Santa Fe.”

St. John Neumann was a co-consecrator at the cathedral for his successor as bishop of Philadelphia. Bishop Neumann was canonized in 1977, and a figure of him hangs in the baptistery.

On September, 1976, then-Archbishop Joseph Bernardin welcomed Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. Two years later, the cardinal became Pope John Paul II.

For more information on the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, visit their website at: