Stories from the First Cathedral 54: A Mystical Presence of Bishop Whipple at the First Cathedral
"I became Bishop Whipple's neighbor, in the Minnesota community which for more than forty years was his home. When I began my work there, he was away, and for several months I could see how, even in his absence, his spirit dominated everything in the town. It was not only that people were proud of him: they looked up to him as to a father, and all seemed to have some personal association with him. If he had not confirmed them, he had said a kind word in some great sorrow, or he had preached a sermon which helped, or one had years before worked on his Cathedral, and each Saturday night the Bishop had paid him with the rest." (Certain American Faces by Charles Lewis Slattery, p103, 1918)
Charles Lewis Slattery was Dean of the First Cathedral from 1896 to 1907. He was with Evangeline and Benjamin Whipple when the bishop died in 1901. Charles Slattery was present during the end of the Episcopate of Bishop Whipple's ministry at the Cathedral, but also the community of Faribault. Bishop Whipple's body lies in the crypt in the undercroft. The crypt can be viewed during a Cathedral tour. The crypt is a dark, damp area of the undercroft of the Cathedral and it is an environment of reverence and respect.
Above the crypt is the choir area of the Cathedral, which is an opposite environment of colorful light glowing through the beautiful stained glass windows which surround the great altar in the choir space of pews and treasures. Bishop Whipple often preached in this space on top of the stairs leading into the choir floor. This is the space which houses the mystical presence of the kind and loving man that we call Bishop Whipple. This is the space where I often stand for personal prayer and delivering a homily to the congregation on Sunday mornings. This sacred space is very profound and special to me, now as I serve again as the Dean of the First Cathedral.