Planning the Restoration of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace

At the top of Fort Street Mall in downtown Honolulu, the Cathedral was built in 1843 during Hawai‘i’s missionary era and served as the mother church of the Catholic Church’s Vicariate Apostolic of the Hawaiian Islands. Father Damien worshipped and was ordained here in 1864. Originally constructed of coral stone quarried from nearby beaches, the Cathedral has been modified many times and has lost much of its campus to tall office buildings. Working with the Parish Planning and Building Committee (PPBC), Mason Architects and a team of consultants have created a Preliminary Design Document to envision the renewal of the Cathedral.

  • The renewal will
    • renew the current infrastructure of the Cathedral;
    • reintroduce certain finishes and furnishings evocative of Father Damien’s time; and
    • introduce new systems and adjust the floor plan and furnishings to better serve the Catholic liturgy.
  • The Cathedral reflects many different architectural styles. Over the years the simple coral block structure took on a vaulted ceiling, Romanesque and Gothic elements, Doric columns, concrete buttresses, and stained glass windows; and its interior furnishings evolved in response to changes in the Church’s liturgy.
  • The Cathedral will be restored to the Victorian period when ‘Iolani Palace was built, Father Damien died (in 1889) and activity was heightened in the mission compound surrounding the Cathedral.
  • Because Father Damien became a saint in 2009, facilities will be designed to better meet the needs of pilgrims as well as parishioners.
  • A new Reliquary Chapel will be added to house the relics of Saint Damien, Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, and Brother Joseph Dutton, who cared for the lepers at Kalaupapa.
  • The renewal of the building and campus will restore the Cathedral to its rightful place as mother church of the diocese and will serve as a catalyst for the renewal of the surrounding community.
  • The Preliminary Design Document:
    • summarizes the design changes through the history of the Cathedral;
    • outlines the needs of the parish, diocese, and community;
    • defines the historical traits and design influences that will guide the restoration;
    • provides a Condition Assessment and Recommendations;
    • presents an Implentation Plan and Cost Analysis.

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Historic Photo: Diocese Archives

The Cathedral, like Kawaiaha‘o Church built the year before it, was constructed of coral blocks quarried by volunteers from the reef offshore Kaka’ako. 1867 photo.