St. Raphael's Catholic Church
222 W. Main St. Built 1853-62 Mostly Destroyed by Fire in 2005, Demolished 2008
The St. Raphael congregation was formed in 1842 by Irish immigrants. They began building the church
in 1853 on land that was donated by territorial governor
. On May 28, 1854 the Cornerstone was laid.
The construction took years and the church was not ready for use until 1862.
The church's original bell tower and spire were added in 1885. The last major renovation of
the cathedral building was in the mid-1950s.
A cathedral church is considered the bishop's church in a Catholic diocese. When the Madison
Diocese was created in 1945, St. Raphael's was designated as the cathedral. Every Catholic
diocese has a cathedral literally the "seat" of the bishop designated as its spiritual center.
Since then, it has been the site of the ordination of numerous priests, the place where bishops
were installed and where other major religious events were held.
While it was one of the original churches in Madison, St. Raphael's was not the oldest.
was formed as a parish in 1840 and the current church building was completed in 1858.
March 14, 2005 St. Raphael Cathedral was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire was arson.
St. Raphael's deed restriction may block development
A restriction on the original 1842 deed may rule out high-end development and limit the Diocese of
Madison's choices about where to locate a cathedral. The deed, handwritten in tight, tiny script,
documents the sale for $1 of the property by Madison city founder James Duane Doty and his wife,
Sarah, to the presiding bishop for "the use and benefit of the Roman Catholic Congregation of
Madison and vicinity for church and school purposes.
The 150 foot Spire has been saved and will be reused when a new cathedral is built.