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Co-Cathedral Joins Diocese In Celebration New Addition to the Old Co-Cathedral Is Baptistry Shrine Is Dark Stained Oak, Figures Carved in Relief, Marble Font The Rev. James Menkhus, the Rev. DeSales Young, the Rev. Jonathan Williams Priests at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral Join in Diocesean Celebration Mail Charl 1C rginia July 20,1975 By Connie Shearer Members of all faiths will join with the Catholic population of West Virginia today to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The main event of the day is the solemn liturgical commemoration to be held at 5 p.m. at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral. The celebration will be followed by a buffet on the grounds. The Diocese of Wheeling, like the State of West Virginia, started as part of the state of Virginia. It was established as the Diocese of Wheeling by Pope Pius IX on July 19,1850, and was redesignated the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston on Oct. 4,1974, by a decree of Pope Paul VI. The d:ocese comprises the entire State of west Virginia and has a total population of 1,744,237 in an area of 24,282.45 sq. ft. When the diocese was established it included all of the State of Virginia, but in tff 1863 when West Virginia was separated from Virginia, eight counties in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia were continued as part of the Diocese of Richmond, and the Diocese of Wheeling included 17 and one-half counties of Southwest Virginia. On August 13, 1974, the Diocese of Wheeling was realigned to be the same as the State of West Virginia and the counties in Virginia then became part of the Diocese of Richmond. (A diocese is traditionally named for the city in which the cathedral is located.) * * * THE CATHEDRAL in Wheeling is St. James Cathedral. Formerly St. James Church, it was known for a few years as St. Mary. St. James is the First Catholic church in the diocese and was erected at the comer of llth and Chapline streets in 1821. The lot was donated by Noah Zane. In 1828 St. James parish became the first parish with a resident priest, the Rev. Francis Rolof. The church received cathedral status when the Diocese of Wheeling was named in an apostolic brief dated July 19,1850. Bishop Richard Vincent Whelan was transferred from Richmond to become the first bishop of the new diocese. Â» * Â» SACRED HEART Church was established in Charleston in 1866, when the Rev. Joseph W. Stenger received orders to settle here permanently. There were at that time only 63 families in the parish which covered Kanawha, Clay. Putnam, Boone, Nicholas and half of Fayette counties. In those early days Sunday Mass was celebrated on the second floor of B. Ward's store on Front Street, now Kanawha Boulevard, and on week days Mass was said hi private homes. The old Dunbar property and a brick building at the corner of Dunbar and Quarrier streets was acquired by the diocese in August, 1866. The first church was built in that year at the present site of the Sacred Heart Rectory. In 1895 the cornerstone for the new Sacred Heart Church on Broad Street was laid. The first services were held in the new church on Christmas Day, 1897. In 1906 a wood altar and a pulpit were installed in the nine-year-old church. Two angels and a cross to be placed on the altar and the candelabra for the sanctuary were donated. The marble high altar and the two side altars were erected in the church in 1909. The church -underwent extensive redecorating in 1950 and 1951. Red Verona and Belgian Rouge marble measuring nearly nine feet in height was installed in the sanctuary and a matching marble pulpit and Communion rail were added. Fleuri Travernelle marble was installed in the nave, vestibule, baptistry and chapel. Eleven life-size figures were painted in the ceiling of the sanctuary. A new paint job was completed in 1966. A plastic paint was applied in various shades to create a mosaic effect. The decor was the first approach to contemporary design in the church. This month, in celebration of the anniversary, the church has taken on still another interior. There no longer is a Communion rail. Those receiving Communion walk up one o r three aisles to the front of the church and receive the sacrament while standing. The side altars have been removed and are at this time stored in Wheeling. In their place hand-carved wood shrines have been installed. The shrines have arch-shaped backgrounds of oak stained in a deep tone to form a background for the figures which are hand carved in relief and imported from Italy. The figures in one shrine depict the Baptism of Jesus. The marble Baptism font is now located in the foreground of thr shrine. The Holy Family is depicted in the other shrine. The figures are stained with transparent color to highlight the texture of the wood. The shrines portray an elegant simplicity. The design is in keeping with the simplicity of the now white walls of the sanctuary, the wood furniture and the natural earth tones of the carpeting as well as the existing soft brown marble. The renovation is of a different period, but it keeps the character of the church and at the same time relates to the antiquity of the building itself.