Cathedral of the Sacred Heart – Winona, MN

Date of Review: I attended the Christmas Eve Mass at 515pm.

Architecture: Gothic revival style Cathedral built after two parishes (St. Thomas and St. Joseph) merged, and the then facilities were not considered sufficient to remain as Cathedral of the growing diocese. Fundraising for the new cathedral started in 1944, and it was completed in 1952.

Celebrant(s): There was one priest (I did not catch his name), and the homily was unremarkable.

Congregation: Very sparse attendance for a Christmas Eve Mass which should be full of families and children – social distancing was very easy here.

Decor: While the exterior of this church was better than many 1940s-1950s designs, the interior has the drawback of traditional church design, that the back of the congregation is far away from the sanctuary, and the drawback of newer Church design, which made it feel not very ornate. The half arches to decorate the transition from the walls to the roof, and some stained glass windows, were the only redeeming factors. The pews also seemed to be very heavily angled inward which might be good in the first few rows, but led to turned heads in beyond that.

Location: Located near the center of Winona, which is a small city of just under 30,000. There weren’t any great views of the Mississippi River that flows past the city or the surrounding bluffs, which was a little disappointing.

Musicians: Two singers and an organist. The singers were above average.

Volunteers: There were a couple ushers, but that was it.

Overall: The architecture of the church is good for its era, and the musicians were above average. Everything else seems to be a missed opportunity – the interior decor is lacking, and both the celebrant and congregation were unremarkable. Since it is only about 40 minutes away from the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, WI, it’s only worth trip on the way if you’re headed to see that better of the two in this part of the Mississippi River Valley.


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