Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, located on West 6th Street in Wilmington, Delaware. The cathedral is in the Quaker Hill Historic District of the city.
Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington was designed in 1816 by Pierre Bauduy, planner of the Wilmington town hall. The church cornerstone was laid in 1816; the 30-foot by 40-foot (9.1- by 12-meter) Romanesque Revival architectural style building was executed in brick.
Saint Peter’s was dedicated on September 12, 1818. The first mass was celebrated by Father Patrick Kenny on September 13, 1818. In 1829, the congregation installed a bell tower on Saint Peter’s and expanded the structure to it current length of 60 feet (18 m).
Much of the interior was added during a large remodeling project that was completed in 1905. The baptistry, altars and frescoes were added at that time. The stained glass, created by Franz Xavier Zettler, was added in 1900.
St. Peter Cathedral school is located behind the cathedral. It was previously attached to the cathedral. But in 1905, when the apostolic pro-nuncio arrived after the church’s remodeling project, he noticed that the church was joined to a rectory and a school. Since a cathedral must be free-standing and debt free, he refused to approve the church as a cathedral. Changes were made over the following years and the church was eventually designated the cathedral of the diocese.
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival Architecture.
In 1868, Pope Pius IX erected the Diocese of Wilmington. This action prompted the new diocese to prepare Saint Peter’s for consecration as a cathedral. Starting in 1870, the diocese added frescoes, a marble baptistery, three altars, a chancel railing, a barrel-domed roof, and a bishop’s cathedral to the church. Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington is Munich-style stained glass was added around 1900. The stained glass was probably created by Franz Xavier Zettler, master glass painter to the Royal Court of Bavaria or by his pupil, Franz Mayer.
When the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington upgrades were finished in 1905, St. Peter’s was ready to be consecrated as a cathedral by the apostolic delegate, Archbishop Diomede Falconio. However, when Falconio arrived onsite, he saw that Saint Peter’s was joined to a rectory and a school. According to Vatican policies, a cathedral had to be a free-standing building. Falconio instead designated Saint Peter’s as a pro-cathedral, a church serving temporarily as a cathedral. The diocese eventually upgraded Saint Peter’s and it was consecrated as a cathedral.
1981 & 1991 Renovations
The diocese renovated Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington in 1981 to repair structural damage and to modify the sanctuary to meet liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council. Contractors added flying buttresses to support the transept walls in 1991, along with a steel substructure for the pillars and choir loft.
By 2007, new structural problems had arisen at Saint Peter’s. A plaster rosette fell from the ceiling into one of the pews. Leaks in the roof were spotted. The diocese also wanted to fix a problem from earlier construction work. Previous renovations had added two floor-to-ceiling metal poles to fortify the arches leading into the side chapels. These poles now blocked the view of the tabernacle in its new location in the cathedral.
Thanks to a grant from the Catholic Diocese Foundation, the diocese was able to replace the roof while keeping the cathedral open for worship. With the assistance of the cathedral’s rector, Father Joseph Cocucci, the diocese undertook further renovations at Saint Peter’s:
- Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington was moved to the side of the sanctuary
- The tabernacle was moved back to the center behind the altar.
- A shrine to Mary, mother of Jesus was created that was accessible to those with physical disabilities
- The baptismal font was positioned near the cathedral entrance.
On November, 22, 2007, in a Thanksgiving Day service at Saint Peter’s, Bishop Michael Saltarelli thanked Father Cocucci “for putting the Blessed Sacrament in His proper place and for putting the bishop in his proper place.”
Annual Feast Day
Church Visiting Time
500 N, West Street, Wilmington,
Delaware, DE 19801, United States.
Tel : +1 302-654-5920
How to reach the Cathedral
The nearest airport to the Cathedral is Wilmington Greater Wilmington Apt (ILG) Airport which is 5.7 miles away. Other nearby airports include Philadelphia (PHL) (18.2 miles), Harrisburg (MDT) (71.6 miles), Baltimore (BWI) (71.9 miles) and Newark (EWR) (97.9 miles).
Wilmington Train Station is the nearby train station to the Cathedral.