I’ve lived in Albany since August 2009 and in the time that I’ve lived in this city I have taken great note of the architecture that surrounds us. When you live somewhere for a long time you don’t often pay attention to what’s around you, but when you look at something with a new perspective, you can appreciate the little things more. Well, even though I pass this building quite often, I have never taken much consideration to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception located at 125 Eagle Street. I am not, nor have I ever been, a Catholic (although I attend a college with Catholic affiliations) and so I never had to really pay attention to the edifice. However, I have been involved with a research project for the history department of the New York State that airs on YNN called “On This Day in New York State History, and because of the research I’ve been going I have been noticing many historical, and interesting, buildings while on my travels around the city. When you learn about the history of an area and learn about the different people and the buildings, it’s hard not to take notice of the ones that are still standing after a century or more and the impact it has on the neighborhood. So, this article will be about the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic church near the Mansion District here in Albany. Built in the 1850s, it is the mother church of the Diocese of Albany. In 1976 it was listed on the National Register of historic Places. It has several claims to architectural and ecclesiastical history. Designed by Irish American architect Patrick Keely to accommodate Albany’s growing population of Catholic immigrants, it is the second-oldest Catholic in the state, after Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. It is also the third oldest Catholic cathedral in the United States, and the first American Catholic cathedral in the Neo-Gothic architectural style. When it was completed, it was the tallest building in Albany. Construction of the cathedral, at the behest of the diocese’s first bishop, John McCloskey, took four years. Its south tower took 40, and it was not consecrated until its 50th anniversary in 1902. The construction of Empire State Plaza threatened the cathedral in the 1960s when it required the demolition of most of the surrounding neighborhood. It has been through several renovations in its history, including a $30 million restoration early in the 21st century.
Mass is celebrated twice a day on weekdays, in the morning and at noon, complemented by an evening Mass during Lent. The Liturgy of the Hours is observed after the morning Mass and on Saturday mornings. On Fridays, the Stations of the Cross are celebrated in the evening. Saturday evening, an Anticipated Mass is celebrated, with three Masses on Sunday. A similar schedule holds for Masses on Holy Days.
Other sacraments regularly offered by the cathedral include confession, during the half-hour before the weekday noon Mass and the hour before Saturday. It may also be done by appointment. Baptism of infants are usually done during the midday Mass on the first Sunday of the month. Weddings are also performed in the cathedral but appointments must be made at least six months in advance. The Anointing of the Sick can be arranged by appointment.