The stunning Cathedral of St. Helena is an impressive, active Roman Catholic church built in the middle of Montana’s capital city of Helena.
The incredible stained-glass windows and gilded crosses are only part of the beauty of the ornate, reverently crafted building. The church is active in the community and welcomes visitors and parishioners to services daily.
What’s the history behind the Cathedral of St. Helena?
The Cathedral of St. Helena is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of the Helena in Montana.
The stunning structure was constructed around the turn of the 20th Century in 1908, during the episcopate of Bishop John Carroll in the impressive Geometric Gothic architecture style you see today.
The building was designed by A.O. Von Herbulis of Washington, D.C. The magnificent building is the result of his international training in both Romanesque and Gothic styles.
The Gothic style was chosen and voted in unanimously by the Building Committee. The building was styled after the Church of the Sacred Heart or Votivkirche, in Vienna, Austria.
The stained-glass windows, Carrara marble statues, white marble altars, and beautiful gold leaf decorations fill the sanctuary with reverent beauty, adoring the carved oak interior. The lighting fixtures are made of hand-forged bronze with a unique, special lacquer finish.
The beautiful stained-glass windows were made and installed by the F.X. Zettler Firm of Munich, Germany.
They depict the story of the people of God in a nutshell, as it were, starting with images of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all the way through the early years of the Church of the early 20th Century.
The Columbia Construction Company of New York City then began construction, laying the cornerstone of the building on October 4, 1908.
The first service was held in the cathedral in 1914 when the structure was finally finished. Bishop Carroll worked the entire period to raise funds for the building and function in an administrative role as the project was under way.
Unfortunately, the cathedral sustained significant damage during the 6.2 earthquakes of Helena in 1935. The cathedral had to go under extensive renovations after the earthquake to restore it to its former glory of the incredible building.
Renovations began on the church that same year and were completed by 1938.
The interior of the cathedral remained unchanged from its original décor and design until the mid-1950s when the bronze altar was installed, along with the grillwork behind the altar and gilding of the interior.
That restoration was completed in 1959 in time for the cathedral’s Golden Jubilee.
The cathedral underwent another renovation from 1982 to 1983. Extensive repairs were made to the stained-glass windows at the time.
In 1999 to 2000, the interior columns were repaired after the Montana Rail link train crash that occurred in 1989.
What makes the Cathedral of St. Helena unique?
The Cathedral of St. Helena’s is a beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral with stunning 59 stained-glass windows, depicting scenes from both the Old and New Testaments, and stunning carved woodwork.
But the most prominent feature of the cathedral is the 230-foot twin spires, which were directly inspired by the Votivkirche in Vienna. The spires are embellished with gold-leafed crosses which stand 12 feet in height and 6 feet in length.
In the cathedral’s north tower, there are fifteen hand-cast bells, representing the mysteries of the Rosary. The limestone exterior of the cathedral also boasts of 29 statues of saints and other religiously significant figures.
Can I visit the Cathedral of St. Helena if I’m not attending a service?
The building is open daily for visitors Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 6 pm, and from 7 am to 12:30 pm on Sundays.
If you would like to take a tour of the cathedral, prearranged tours can be set and will take one hour. Call the parish off (listed) below to arrange for a tour.
Masses are held each day at the Cathedral of St. Helena, save for special events such as graduations, year-round. Monday and Friday, mass is held at 7 am, while Tuesday through Thursday, mass is held at both 7 am and 12 pm.
On Saturdays, mass is at 9 am and 5:15 pm. Sunday mass is held at 7:30 am, 9 am, and 11 am.
You may also take a virtual tour of the sanctuary.
- 530 N. Ewing St, Helena, MT 59601
- Open Hours: Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 6 pm, 7 am to 12:30 pm Sundays
- Mass times: Monday through Friday at 7 am, Tuesday through Thursday 12 pm, Saturdays at 9 am and 5:15 pm, Sundays at 7:30 am, 9 am, 11 am
- Season: Year-Round
- Prearranged tours available
The historic Cathedral of St. Helena has been through much over the years, from its initial construction in 1908 until now – earthquakes and train crashes of all things! – but that history has only enrichened the church’s legacy.
The beautiful architecture remains nearly as it began with modernizations added for comfort and safety.
Come in for a tour, walk through on your own, or join the congregation for a morning or evening mass. Be sure to check service and open hour times before visiting to ensure your best experience.