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I was listening to the latest episode of the Catholic Man Show where they were saying that in your diocese the feast day for the patron saint of your cathedral parish is a solemnity.

He told us that actually is St. Patrick is not a solemnity. It's a Memorial or, but what we are saying is that in New York, because the cathedral is St Patrick's. It is because the cathedral was named after Saint Patrick, the feast of St. Patrick in that diocese, isn't it? Yeah. It is elevated to solemnity just like st. Patrick's day in Sand Springs is elevated from a feast day.

Well, my diocese's cathedral church burned down in 2005 and they haven't rebuilt it yet. So does that leave us without a patron saint for which to celebrate a solemnity on on or is the Bishop supposed to appoint a "floating holiday" or something like that?

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    I was thinking "okay, here comes another weird hypothetical question about Catholicism..." until I got to your second sentence. Wow! – curiousdannii Oct 10 '20 at 1:31
  • Are you speaking of the diocese's patron or the cathedral church's name? – Geremia Oct 10 '20 at 4:03
  • St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland, because St. Patrick is the patron saint of the entire nation. St. Patrick’s Day is also celebrated in many areas of the United States due to the Irish immigrants who crossed the Atlantic. Many U.S. dioceses have cathedrals dedicated to St. Patrick, where he’s the patron saint of the diocese. Celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick is a big occasion and a solemnity, a full-blown liturgical feast, in such places. In other places, such as Italy, Spain, France, Poland, and Germany, St. Patrick’s feast day isn’t celebrated with the same fanfare. – Ken Graham Oct 10 '20 at 19:34
  • @Geremia the guys on the Catholic Man Show were talking about their Cathedral Church's Name. (Unless the diocese of NY's patron is St. Patrick and they just didn't know it) I think they're wrong about it like Andrew said (but I'll read Ken's answer now which apparently is contradictory) oh this is interesting... – Peter Turner Oct 10 '20 at 23:06
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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.

Cathedral fire

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.

Madison's cathedral

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:

  • I still don't see how a diocese is considered a "place" in that list, when it's explicitly listed as "diocese" elsewhere, as shown in my answer. Neither this answer, nor comments under mine, explain that. – Andrew Leach Oct 11 '20 at 8:15
  • @AndrewLeach A Diocese is the territory or churches subject to the jurisdiction of a bishop. It is typically the place that a bishop exorcises his authority. We may have to go to the Latin text to get a clearer meaning. In any case, we are indeed speaking of a particular church calendar and not the universal calendar of the Catholic Church, even though both may be applied here. – Ken Graham Oct 11 '20 at 15:04
  • @KenGraham Andrew Leach is correct. The Principal Patron of the Diocese is listed separately at a lower rank, so it cannot be a "place" -- it does still get elevated in the OF. – eques Oct 14 '20 at 15:19
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The Roman Missal has a table of precedence for feasts (at p13 of the linked PDF). Relevant here are

  1. 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 a Congregation.

Nothing there about the feast of a cathedral's dedicatee being a solemnity in the diocese. In fact it's not even mentioned at number 8:

  1. Proper Feasts, namely:

    a. The Feast of the principal Patron of the diocese
    b. The Feast of the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral church
    ...
    f. Other Feasts inscribed in the Calendar of each diocese or Order or Congregation

So, no: the saint's day of the cathedral's dedicatee is not a Solemnity in the diocese, and your source appears to be incorrect. The principal Patron of the diocese (who may also be the cathedral's patron saint) is a Feast within the diocese. The cathedral's patron saint is celebrated as a Solemnity in the cathedral on the appointed day (rule 4c above).

Rule 8b celebrates the date the cathedral was founded [the building's birthday] rather than its patron saint's day. Your bishop may have ordered a particular Feast under 8f, but in that case it would either remain or would have been altered by the bishop according to circumstance.

In your specific case, presumably you have a pro-Cathedral at the moment: that will have its own dedication (a Solemnity in that church) and it may have been changed temporarily to include the cathedral's patron saint (also a Solemnity in that church).

  • My response is the opposite of yours! – Ken Graham Oct 10 '20 at 17:43
  • @KenGraham You have provided information I didn't have. However, the feast day of St Raphael is a Feast in the General Calendar, so it falls in 4c in the cathedral and 8a in the diocese. It doesn't fall into 4a because it's not a Solemnity in the General Calendar. The day is a Feast, not a Solemnity. (And if a diocese is a "place" for the purposes of 4a, why is it listed explicitly at 8a?) – Andrew Leach Oct 10 '20 at 17:55
  • But it is the patron saint of the cathedral and thus the whole diocese. The absence of a cathedral does not change that fact. – Ken Graham Oct 10 '20 at 18:31
  • But the patron saint of the cathedral is not necessarily the patron of the diocese. And if a diocese is a "place" then 8a is irrelevant unless the rank in the General Calendar is important (and St Raphael is a Feast in the General Calendar). – Andrew Leach Oct 10 '20 at 18:35
  • An example, St. Patrick’s Day, is celebrated in Ireland, because St. Patrick is the patron saint of the entire nation. St. Patrick’s Day is also celebrated in many areas of the United States due to the Irish immigrants who crossed the Atlantic. Many U.S. dioceses have cathedrals dedicated to St. Patrick, where he’s the patron saint of the diocese. Celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick is a big occasion and a solemnity, a full-blown liturgical feast, in such places. In other places, such as Italy, Spain, France, Poland, and Germany, St. Patrick’s feast day isn’t celebrated with the same fanfare. – Ken Graham Oct 10 '20 at 18:45

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