Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, 1184 Bishop Street, Honolulu, Havaji, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

808 536 7036

Every day from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm

The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace:

  • also known by its original French name Cathédrale de Notre Dame de la Paix,
  • its Portuguese variant Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Paz and
  • its Hawaiian derivative Malia o ka Malu Hale Pule Nui

is the Mother Church of the Diocese of Honolulu and houses the cathedral of the Bishop of Honolulu in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is located at the north end of Fort Street Mall in downtown Honolulu. Another cathedral was installed in the Co-Cathedral of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, also serving the diocese.

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Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, located at the north end of Fort Street Mall in downtown Honolulu, is said to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States and one of the oldest existing buildings in the downtown area.

It is dedicated under the patronage of Our Lady of Peace because the first Catholic missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands, members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary gave that title to their first foundation in a new land. The Cathedral stands on land which was given to the missionaries by King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) when the mission was established in 1827.

The first Catholic missionaries arrived in Hawai‘i on July 7, 1827. Fr. Alexis Bachelot, prefect apostolic, was accompanied by Fathers Abraham Armand and Patrice Short, Bros. Melchior Bondu and Leonard and a seminarian. In November of 1837, under pressure from the protestant missionaries, King Kamehameha III expelled the Catholics from the Islands. The turning point came on July 10, 1839 when the French frigate Artemise under the command of Capt. Cyrille Laplace sailed into Honolulu Harbor and issued a manifesto demanding among other things, freedom of the Catholic religion in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The Cathedral itself was formally dedicated on August 15, 1843. The anniversary is observed on August 16 because the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven is celebrated on August 15.

As an Apostolic Vicariate from 1833-1940, six bishops served the Catholic faithful of Hawai‘i. Bishop Etienne Jerome Rouchouze, ss.cc. (1833-1843), Bishop Louis Maigret, ss.cc. (1847-1881), Bishop Herman Koeckemann, ss.cc. (1881-1892), Bishop Gulstan Ropert, ss.cc. (1892-1903), Bishop Libert H. Boeynaems, ss.cc. (1903-1926) and Bishop Stephen Alencastre (1926-1940). Bishop Alencastre was the first person who was raised in the Hawaiian Islands to become bishop.

Sunday Masses:

  • Masses at (Vigil) 5:00pm,
  • 6:00 am
  • 7:30 am
  • 9:00 am
  • 10:30 am
  • 12:00n
  • 6:00 pm

Weekday Masses:

  • Monday – Friday: 6:30 am & 12:00n
  • Saturday: 7:00 am & 12:00n

Saint Damien – Servant of God

Saint Damien de Veuster was born on January 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium. He was a simple man whose parents were farmers so he had a body that was square, sturdy, and well-conditioned. Saint Damien was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary on May 21, 1864 in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace two months after his arrival in Hawai‘i. He was assigned to the Big Island where powerful bonds of Christian love developed between him and his people.

In the meantime, the Hawaiian population was being plagued by Hansen’s Disease or leprosy as it was known at that time. Those infected were sent to Kalaupapa Settlement on Molokai to remain forever. Saint Damien requested to serve in Kalawao where the most desperate patients were housed. He arrived in Kalaupapa on May 10, 1873 and eight days later he wrote to his provincial asking for permission to stay permanently. His superior answered him by saying that he had not made up his mind concerning this matter but “…You may stay as long as your devotion dictates…” They were the most welcome words that he could have received and he read the letter repeatedly allowing the words to echo in his mind and in his heart. He longed to serve among these most pitiful souls, the residents of Kalawao. It turned out to be a monumental challenge with the possibility that he might someday contract leprosy, for in order to communicate his love and concern it would involve direct contact with them.

Saint Damien’s work among the patients knew no bounds and his primary concern was to restore to them a sense of personal dignity and value. He ministered to the sick by bringing the sacraments to them and by anointing those who were bedridden. He washed their bodies, bandaged their wounds, tidied their rooms and made them as comfortable as possible. He encouraged those who were well to work alongside him by building cottages, coffins, a rectory, an orphanage for the children and repairing the road. He also taught them to farm, play musical instruments, and sing. Saint Damien was everywhere in the settlement and even on “topside” which was part of his parish. He touched their hearts with his sincere desire to serve them and slowly their sense of dignity which was all but destroyed by their illness was restored.

His own life was surrounded by horror – the sights of the ravaged bodies and faces of those in the advanced stages of leprosy and the obnoxious smells were overpowering but he accepted them. Even before he was diagnosed as having leprosy he used the term “we lepers” in his sermons for he wished to identify with them as a means of bringing them to Christ. He refused to let their lives be swept into despair.

Saint Damien was a man with a quick smile. He was a headstrong individual but no one could deny that he was a man with a warm and tender heart. He was quick to forgive and never bore a grudge. His face was full of kindness and he was totally unselfish in his work. These qualities, as well as his practical nature and fluent command of the Hawaiian language enabled him to be held in high esteem by the residents.

As the years progressed, word of Saint Damien’s deeds attracted worldwide attention. Food, medicine, clothing, and funds were sent from many countries to assist his mission but the need was always there for more. There were news articles written in many countries, notably Europe and America, about his compassionate and charitable work.

Saint Damien died on April 15, 1889 at Kalawao, Molokai where he devoted much of his life in service of God. Shortly after his death, a monument was erected in Kalaupapa to honor his memory with this inscription. “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His feast day is celebrated on May 10.

Cathedral Renewal Campaign

The funds raised in the Cathedral Renewal Campaign will support comprehensive repairs, restoration, preservation and renewal of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. The Cathedral, constructed in the late 1830s and completed in 1843, is an historic building made from coral blocks harvested from Honolulu Harbor. St. Damien was ordained a priest there, and St. Marianne worshipped there as well. Although the Cathedral has been renovated in the past and has been maintained over the years, there has not been a major project to address her comprehensive needs for decades. The Cathedral Renewal will address much-needed repairs and will also restore the Cathedral to enhance our present liturgy while evoking the nineteenth century time period when Saints Damien and Marianne were in this very church.

What is the construction timeline and when will the project be completed? The architects have completed the drawings and plans and we acquired the permits for the entire project in the summer of 2015. Renovations to the upper galleries (phases 1a and 1b) commenced in September 2015 and were completed in time to reopen gallery seating for Thanksgiving and the Advent season. Additional work will begin again after Easter 2016. Construction will follow a phased approach as funding supports. The project managers and architects estimate a minimum of two years to complete all planned renovations. With your help, we hope to complete the renewal of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in time for her 175th anniversary celebration on August 16, 2018.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, located at the north end of Fort Street Mall in downtown Honolulu, is said to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States and one of the oldest existing buildings in the downtown area. It is dedicated under the patronage of Our Lady of Peace because the first Catholic missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands, members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary gave that title to their first foundation in a new land. The Cathedral stands on land which was given to the missionaries by King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) when the mission was established in 1827.

The first Catholic missionaries arrived in Hawai‘i on July 7, 1827. Fr. Alexis Bachelot, prefect apostolic, was accompanied by Fathers Abraham Armand and Patrice Short, Bros. Melchior Bondu and Leonard and a seminarian. In November of 1837, under pressure from the protestant missionaries, King Kamehameha III expelled the Catholics from the Islands. The turning point came on July 10, 1839 when the French frigate Artemise under the command of Capt. Cyrille Laplace sailed into Honolulu Harbor and issued a manifesto demanding among other things, freedom of the Catholic religion in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The Cathedral itself was formally dedicated on August 15, 1843. The anniversary is observed on August 16 because the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven is celebrated on August 15.

As an Apostolic Vicariate from 1833-1940, six bishops served the Catholic faithful of Hawai‘i. Bishop Etienne Jerome Rouchouze, ss.cc. (1833-1843), Bishop Louis Maigret, ss.cc. (1847-1881), Bishop Herman Koeckemann, ss.cc. (1881-1892), Bishop Gulstan Ropert, ss.cc. (1892-1903), Bishop Libert H. Boeynaems, ss.cc. (1903-1926) and Bishop Stephen Alencastre (1926-1940). Bishop Alencastre was the first person who was raised in the Hawaiian Islands to become bishop.

The building is made of simple coral stone blocks which were brought to the site from the Kaka‘ako shores. These blocks and the ones used in the building of Kawaiaha‘o Church come from the same coral reef. When both buildings were completed, they were similar in appearance. The inside of the building was very stark; simple wooden altars and lauhala-matted floors.

The Cathedral tower is the third tower which has drawn attention to the presence of the Cathedral. The original tower (1843) was a simple domed-shaped structure which was replaced in 1866 with a tall, wooden spire. The local newspaper acknowledged that it was the loftiest in the islands. This was replaced by the present concrete tower because of termite damage in 1917. A bronze weather vane, often unnoticed, is perched on top of the tower. It has been there since the time of the second tower.

There are two bells housed in the tower. Both of them were cast in France. The first was dedicated to Bishop Maigret and installed in 1853. the second was added in 1866 when the second tower was erected. It bears the name “Aubert” probably indicating its dedication to Fr. Aubert Bouillon, ss.cc., the pastor of Maria Lanakila Church in Lahaina, Maui at that time. The Lahaina church was dedicated a few years earlier. Historians seem to think that the bell was originally meant for that church, but somehow ended up at the Cathedral.

The tower clock also has an interesting history. A clock was ordered from France soon after the dedication of the Cathedral. Bishop Maigret sent the order through the office of the superior of the Sacred Hearts Fathers and Brothers in Valparaiso, Chile. It was sent there for inspection before it was forwarded to Hawai‘i. For some unknown reason, it was switched with an older clock in Chile which arrived in Hawai‘i and was installed about 1852 at the base of the original tower. When the roof was raised several feet in the 1870’s the clock was positioned in the back wall of the Cathedral. It is the oldest tower clock in Hawai‘i.

The Aeolian-Skinner organ, Opus 916 is the third pipe organ to be installed in the Cathedral. The original organ was a French organ which was installed in 1847 and had the distinction of being the first pipe organ in Hawai‘i. This was replaced in 1876 by a pipe organ from England and the statue of St. Cecilia, the patroness of sacred music, was added to the statuary of the Cathedral. The present instrument was dedicated on September 9, 1934. It was partially renovated and restored in 1985 and is now one of the oldest functioning pipe organs in Hawai‘i. Continued restoration assures it will provide music for the Cathedral in future generations.

The statue of Our Lady of Peace in the Cathedral courtyard was blessed Bishop Gulstan Ropert, ss.cc., on December 24, 1893. It marked the spot where it was thought that the first small wooden missionary church stood. the plaques on the four sides of the pedestal are engraved in Hawaiian, English, French, and Portuguese with the words: “In memory of the first Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of Peace 1827-1893.” It is a copy of an original statue which was carved of wood in the early 16th century and is still venerated at the Convent of the Sacred Hearts Sisters in Paris. The first establishment of the Sacred Hearts missionaries was dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Peace. The Feast of Our Lady of Peace is observed on July 9.

The first kiawe tree was introduced to the islands by the first Catholic missionary to Hawai‘i, Fr. Alexis Bachelot, ss.cc., with a seed from the Royal Garden in Paris. This tree was a real blessing in many ways. These trees have grown all around Hawai‘i, especially in places where other trees have not been able to grow. This kiawe tree accounts for the beautiful trees which grow on the sides of once barren mountains. The original tree was cut down in 1919 to make way for a new building, but a section of its trunk is still preserved next to the Chancery building.

In 1941 the Catholic Church in Hawai‘i was established as the Diocese of Honolulu. Bishop James Joseph Sweeney, a priest from San Francisco, was installed as the first bishop of the Diocese. Bishop Sweeney served from 1941-1967, and was followed by Bishop John Joseph Scanlan (1968-1981), Bishop Joseph Anthony Ferrario (1982-1993), and Bishop Francis X. Dilorenzo (1994-2005.) Bishop Clarence “Larry” Silva has served as Bishop of Honolulu and pastor of the Cathedral since 2005.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace is the site of the ordination to the priesthood of Saint Damien deVeuster, ss.cc. on May 21, 1864. Saint Damien is world-famous for his work with lepers on the Kalaupapa peninsula, Molokai. He himself died of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) on April 15, 1889. He was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II in Brussells, Belgium in 1995, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. His feast day is celebrated on May 10, the day of his arrival on the Kalaupapa peninsula. Saint Damien’s statue stands in front of the State Capitol in Honolulu and also in the Capitol of the United States in Washington, D.C. where each state is allowed to have two people who were significant in the history of the state honored. The other statue is that of King Kamehameha the Great.

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