If the local cathedral of your diocese has burned down, is the feast day of the patron saint still a solemnity?
The short answer is yes, since the principle patron saint has not been changed and thus remains intact!
This question deals more with the particular calendar of a diocese than the norms set out by the Universal Calendar of the Catholic Church, although both may be applicable.
The principle patron saint (and not the secondary patron saint(s) if applicable) of the cathedral is also the patron saint of the diocese. The absence or destruction of a cathedral does not change that fact.
The fact that St. Raphael, the Archangel has been established as the principle patron saint of your diocese, He must remain the patron saint of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin.
A patron [saint] is one who has been assigned by a venerable tradition, or chosen by election, as a special intercessor with God and the proper advocate of a particular locality, and is honoured by clergy and people with a special form of religious observance. The term "patron", being wider in its meaning than that of "titular", may be applied to a church, a district, a country, or a corporation. The word "titular" is applied only to the patron of a church or institution. Both the one and the other, according to the legislation now in force, must have the rank of a canonized saint. - Patron Saint
This answer is not referring to secondary patron saints of a diocese, but uniquely of thee principle patron saint named in the title of the dioceses’ cathedrals.
St. Raphael's undergoing de-construction in 2008
On March 14, 2005, a fire caused extensive damage to St. Raphael's Cathedral, affecting not only those who attended the church, but the entire diocesan community.
The fire caused the roof to collapse into the building, although the walls and steeple remained standing. There was further damage from the water and fears that the refurbished steeple would collapse, although the steeple was found to be stable in the days following the fire. The mosaics sustained smoke and water damage, and the stained glass windows were damaged but still in place.
The cause of the fire was determined to be arson. Forty-one-year-old William J. "Billy" Connell was arrested for setting the fire and charged with burglary, arson, and bail jumping. Connell said that he had broken into the Cathedral using a crowbar, stole a bottle of wine, and then "messed around with some stuff". The fire started in an office/storeroom under the spire, and the crowbar was found in that room. Connell had a history of mental problems, and had previously been in trouble with the law. Connell was sentenced to 15 years in prison to be followed by 15 years of close supervision.
Once a principle patron saint has been established as the patron saint of a country, region, diocese or local parish, the patron saint must remain as such. Thus the feast of such a patron saint would remain as a solemnity.
I have never heard of a parish or even a cathedral being dedicated to another patron saint in a case where the particular building structure had to be replaced with another patron saint. Notre Dame Cathedral will always have Our Lady as the Patron Saint of Paris. Your diocese is not unique.
The patron saint is the principle feast of the whole diocese and not simply just for the cathedral. Thus the Feast of St. Raphael is a Solemnity in your diocese.
To change the patron saint of simple parish churches, Rome must give it approval and the local Catholic population must also approve the measure. This actually happened to a neighbouring parish here in the Archdiocese of Vancouver when the old parish church of St. Anne became the Church of Sts. Joachim & Ann. The old parish church was structurally unsound and a new church was erected. St. Joachim was simply added to the already existing patron saint of St. Ann, the Queen Mother.
By the way both parishioners, the archbishop and Rome approved this new title as it did not take away the existing local patron saint.
St. Raphael is still the patron saint of your diocese, even in the absence of a proper ecclesiastical cathedral dedicated to your diocesan patron saint.
St. Raphael: Great patron of the Diocese of Madison
The cathedrals of the Dubuque Archdiocese and Madison Diocese have the rare distinction of being named after St. Raphael, the archangel. Raphael is also the patron saint of the Diocese of Madison. St. Raphael is one of the three archangels mentioned by name in Scripture and one of the seven who stand before God's throne.
In the early 1840s, Irish immigrants settled into what later became Madison. They were soon organized into a parish named after Raphael, the Archangel.
On August 15, 1842, Mass was offered for the first time by Fr. Martin Kundig. The land that the parish buildings and a later parking lot would be built upon was donated by Governor James Duane Doty, who was a close friend of Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli.
From 1842 until 1853 the parish did not have a church of its own. Mass was often celebrated in homes and in the state Capitol building.
In 1853 Fr. Francis Etchmann led the construction of the current church building that has been damaged by fire. The cornerstone was laid in 1854. Archbishop John Michael Henni of the Milwaukee Archdiocese dedicated the new building. In 1885 the present bells and spire were added.
On January 9, 1946, Pope Pius XII created the Diocese of Madison from an 11 county area in southern and southwestern Wisconsin. Territory was taken from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of La Crosse for the new diocese. (I remember when this happened.)
St. Raphael Parish was chosen as the cathedral parish for the new diocese. Msgr. William Mahoney was the proud pastor of St. Raphael.
St. Raphael's patronage
Recently I was delighted to discover that St. Raphael, our patron saint, is also the patron saint of many areas of concern that touch our lives. The archangel is the patron saint of sick persons, travelers, bearers of the good news, happy meetings, the blind, nurses, physicians, and the choice of a good spouse. In addition, St. Raphael is the angel of good health, youth, chaste courtships, and happy marriages.
St. Raphael is also defender of the Church, strong helper in time of need, angel of home life, and guardian of the Christian family. Too, Raphael is the angel of joy, support of the dying, and healer of the sick.
According to the September 6, 2007, issue of the Catholic Herald, the St. Raphael's Pilgrims Marriage Prep Prayer Group has been formed in our diocese. Members of this group commit themselves to some type of daily prayer or sacrifice to support marriage preparation, marriage prep facilitators, and engaged couples in our diocese.
They are also asked to pray a novena to St. Raphael leading up to the weekend. The group has taken St. Raphael as their patron saint not only because he is the patron saint of the Madison Diocese but also because of his role in Sarah and Tobias's marriage in the Book of Tobit.
Providentially, it seems that the Holy Spirit has helped our diocese to wisely choose St. Raphael as its patron saint. As our diocese prepares to rebuild the cathedral and move into the future, let us learn from St. Raphael and ask the archangel's intercession for healing, safe travel, health, support of the ill, dying, family, marriage, and other concerns.
Your patron saint remains a solemnity since a diocese is considered an ecclesiastical territory (place) or area.
Proper solemnities, namely:
a. The solemnity of the principal patron of the place, city or state.
b. The solemnity of the dedication and of the anniversary of the dedication of one’s own church.
c. The solemnity of the title of one’s own church.
d. The solemnity either of the title
or of the founder or of the principal patron of an order or congregation. - Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar
In my archdiocese, it’s cathedral archiepiscopal see is the Holy Rosary Cathedral, dedicated to the principle diocesan patron saint Our Lady of the Rosary, in Vancouver, B.C.
For further information about this subject matter, the following articles may be considered as interested subject matter: