St. Mary Cathedral is significant architecturally and historically as the mother church of Roman Catholicism in the Pikes Peak Region. The first Mass in the area was said in Old Colorado City in 1860 by the pioneer priest, Joseph P. Machebeuf. But since there were few Catholics among the early gold seekers who settled the area, Catholic worship was held in private homes for many years. The earliest recorded public Mass in Colorado Springs was said by the Rev. Machebeuf in May 1873 when the city was only two years old. The congregation attended services in stores, meeting halls and several temporary chapels until 1888 when the present property on Kiowa Street was purchased for $3,100.
By 1891, the basement of the present structure was completed, and religious services have been held on this site continuously for more than 100 years. The superstructure was completed in 1898 and dedication ceremonies were held Dec. 19, 1898. Bell towers were installed in 1902. A substantial interior remodeling project was conducted from 1902-04. Gothic arched plaster ceilings, the six side aisle windows and electric lighting were added. The two towers were extended and steeples added in 1907. The original pipe organ was replaced in 1916 and used until 2002.
Another redecoration project took place from 1923-24. The stained glass windows of the clerestory were installed and the stained glass windows on the east and west walls of the apse were added. In 1930, limestone facings were added to the three main entrances and adjacent windows. The rose window over the choir loft was changed to its current configuration. The exterior of the church underwent a major renovation in 1961, resulting in the main entrance steps and ramp that were in place prior to 2003. The interior was modernized in 1963. Featured were new interior lighting, decoration and pews. A new sacristy was also constructed.
In the 1980’s another modernization of the Church took place under the leadership of the pastor, Father Ted Haas. In January 1984 Bishop Richard C. Hanifen was installed as the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Colorado Springs. Eight of the ten counties comprising the new Diocese were taken from the Archdiocese of Denver and two counties from the Diocese of Pueblo. The Diocese is situated in the middle of the state and stretches from the Continental Divide on the west to the eastern border of the state. Bishop Hanifen selected St. Mary parish church as the new Cathedral, and Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Patroness of the Diocese.
The latest renovation and construction project was completed in late fall of 2003. The project consisted of the renewed interior of the Cathedral, a new entrance on the southwest corner, a gathering space, a plaza on the east and north sides of the church, 15 new meeting and classrooms, new sacristies, a hospitality room and catechumen room. Not completed at the present time are the office spaces for the parish.
In December 2005 the St. Mary Cathedral Columbarium opened. There are 864 niches located on the east exterior wall of the Cathedral building. Parishioners of this parish and the Diocese of Colorado Springs are eligible to have their cremains inurned here. The vision is that at all times the Columbarium will be a dignified place of peace and beauty, an asset to our church and its departed loved ones.
In 2007, we began an outreach program to the Hispanic Community with Mass in Spanish each Sunday.
St. Mary's Cathedral looks forward to another century of worship and service in downtown Colorado Springs.