St. Augustine 1897 A small two-room house was the modest beginning of the Cathedral of Saint Augustine Cathedral in Tucson. The year, 1858.
In that year the Bishop of the Diocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Most Rev. John Lamy sent a priest of his diocese, the Rev. Joseph Machebeuf to survey the conditions of the Church in the newly acquired territory of Arizona. Father Machebeuf reported to his bishop that there were about 600 people in the town of Tucson, and advised the appointment of a pastor for the area.
The little house donated to Fr. Machebeuf by the local citizenry gradually took on the semblance of a Church building. With the appointment of Rev. Jean B. Salpointe as pastor in 1866, work on the building was stepped up, but two more years passed before the Church or Cathedral, as it was popularly called even then, was completed.
The year was 1868. Tucson had a substantial Church to serve an expanding population, and its pastor was destined to become its first bishop.
In the same year the Holy See declared the territory of Arizona a Vicariate Apostolic, and Father Salpointe became the Most Rev. Jean B. Salpointe, Vicar Apostolic of the area. Tucson now had a bishop and a Cathedral!
In 1966, 100 years after the coming of Bishop Salpointe, times inevitable toll was showing its effect on the Church.During the years of the growth of the Diocese, the Cathedral parish was more concerned with giving a helping hand to fledgling parishes scattered throughout the length and breadth of Arizona, than with regular upkeep of its own facilities. The result was that the mother Church of the Diocese became unsafe for worshippers.
The work of restoration was undertaken in 1966 and completed in 1968. That event happily coincided with 100 years of eclesiastical jurisdiction in Arizona and the 100th anniversary of the completion of the original church of San Agustín.
Saint Augustine Cathedral continues to serve the faithful parishioners and the Diocese of Tucson.
We will have more on the restorations for you soon