Stories from the First Cathedral 58

The Very Rev. Canon James Zotalis

Stories from the First Cathedral 58

On Saturday October 2, 2021, I shared prayers for a deceased member of the First Cathedral. The committal was in the Columbarium area of the undercroft of the Cathedral. The columbarium is a wall of niches behind Bishop Whipple's crypt. The crypt is a cement vault that houses the casket and body of Bishop Henry Whipple. On top of the vault is a large wooden cross, a beautiful Anishinaabe rug from a Midewiwin lodge, a Dakota frontal with beautiful bead work and a Dakota Bible holder also featuring beadwork. The crypt is surrounded by a black metal fence of heavy iron.

There are many features of the undercroft found under the nave of the Cathedral. There is a full basement under the nave showing the transition of the heating system since 1862. Heat was produced by wood, coal, forced air, and now 2 efficient hot water furnaces. This area is used mostly for storage and the Deans work bench for projects.

To the south along a narrow hall way is a bank of glass cases constructed by former parishioner Bucky Roosemalen. These cases house some of Bishop Whipple's personal treasures  and liturgical items. There are also old photos of famous people, ancient relics, important paper documents and my favorite: "Apostle spoons."

There are other rooms past the glass case museum. One room is a boiler helping to heat this section of the Cathedral addition of 1934. There is a music room, which was recently turned into a temporary Sunday School room, and a nursery decorated in 19th century motif. There is also a bathroom with original paintings created by the current Dan. There are two ways to enter the undercroft: 1) steep steps from the sacristy or 2) a short hallway that leads up the new stairs to the Cathedral Cloister. Traveling up these stairs one can view a mural painted by the late Rev Paul Schaffer, a stain glass window from an Episcopal church in Blooming Prairie and an original charcoal sketch of Bishop Whipple from 1888.

All of these most interesting items of history can be seen during a First Cathedral visit. If you wish to schedule a tour call the Dean's administrative assistant Missy Donkers at 507-334-7732.