My View For Awhile: Knoxville’s Cathedral

In Knoxville they recently built a new Cathedral dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I’ll let photos speak for themselves.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Lovely and reverent. Two words that don’t often come to mind for most church buildings that are younger than me.

  2. APX says:

    Those images on the dome sort of pop out of there at you.

  3. Danteewoo says:

    Beautiful, except for the relics of John XXIII and Josemaria Escriva.

  4. RobinDeLage says:

    The fellow praying in front of the lighted Exit sign seems odd to me.

  5. teomatteo says:

    Are those real candles or lights.? Just wondering about new fire codes

  6. teomatteo says:

    Beautiful. It can be done.

  7. WVC says:

    I had no idea there was something this beautiful in Knoxville!

  8. Sandy says:

    That is a real Catholic church, praise God! I remember years ago, maybe in the Wanderer, articles about an architect who was bringing back this type of beauty, and teaching students.

  9. dlmzdy says:

    Attend the 11AM Mass on Sunday June 13th on the way home from Summer Vacation. The Church was stunningly beautiful, but the music at Mass ruined the entire experience, the volume was so loud that the congregation would have to scream to be heard over the speakers and high powered amps, but I refrained and tried to pray a rosary, there was a drum set deployed, and the pipe organ was silent.

    That speaks volumes.

  10. Eoin OBolguidhir says:

    Every free standing altar should be under a ciborium. Well done. It’s interesting that they built the brand-new, traditional style altar on which the tabernacle is resting in back of the actual altar, as if this were an older church that had been remodeled when it has all been built from scratch. Is giving the appearance of having destroyed or sublated tradition a required or desired aesthetic?

  11. Benedict Joseph says:

    Simple classical perfection. You can’t gild this lily. A ray of light in a Church gone dark.

  12. Public Savant says:

    I’m sure somebody said that they should have given the money to the poor … ;-)

  13. RuralCatholic says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I was visiting EWTN when the architect was on Mitch Pacwah’s show talking about its structure etc. Its a work of love for God and beauty. You say this willbe your view forawhile, Father?

  14. ncstevem says:

    We recently moved to east TN and attend Mass in Knoxville – however not at the Cathedral. Holy Ghost Catholic Church is about 6 miles away near downtown Knoxville. It was built in 1926 and still has the high altar and altar rails. The TLM Mass is celebrated every Sunday at noon as well as several times during the week

  15. JustaSinner says:

    And speak powerfully it does! Looks like a near copy of the Nashville Cathedral inside.

  16. Gaetano says:

    Every architectural element in the cathedral proclaims that “something important is happening here.”

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    For more great photos, see the Adoremus Bulletin‘s extraordinary photo essay on the dedication of our cathedral:

    Deep in the Heart of the South—Deep in the Heart of Christ

    The photos are posted at the end of the essay. From its opening and closing paragraphs:

    “The event received local media coverage as a milestone marking the growth of Catholicism in a region where only three percent of the population identifies as Catholic. But relatively unnoticed was the cathedral’s importance in the renewal of Catholic architecture in the United States. With its intentional embrace of the classical tradition, design sophistication, theological fullness, and iconic richness, the construction of the $31 million edifice marks a singular high point in the recent revitalization of Catholic visual and liturgical culture.”

    “In sum, the patrons, architects and artists of the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus have done something not seen for more than half a century. . . . . The cathedral does indeed represent a great local achievement, and congratulations are in order to all involved. But it is also more. With a humble budget in a diocese of a mere 70,000 Catholics, this cathedral has set the high point to date for architectural and theological richness in the postconciliar United States.”

  18. jaykay says:

    A visual and theological feast! Among the features that caught my eye are the inscription around the dome: “Worthy is the Lamb…” (I like the way the “and” has been incorporated diagonally in smaller lettering) and the inscription on the baldacchino: “Jesu confido in Te”. Then, on the interior of the same: “Verbum caro factum est”.

    The icon-style artwork on the dome is extremely well done, i.m.h.o. – not a Pantocrator but a Sacred Heart, with the Blessed Virgin, and St. Joseph, with lily. Thank you, Henry Edwards, for posting the Adoremus link: looking forward to it.

  19. excalibur says:

    @RobinDeLage says:
    23 June 2021 at 10:45 AM

    The fellow praying in front of the lighted Exit sign seems odd to me.


    I think that he was doing the stations of the cross.

  20. excalibur says:

    Father Z’s new parish?

  21. Adelle Cecilia says:

    For “a while?”
    Do come down to Chattanooga!
    Will you be offering Mass at Holy Ghost in Knoxville, at all?

  22. Jack007 says:

    “Beautiful, except for the relics of John XXIII and Josemaria Escriva.”

    Did I miss something? The reliquaries are nice and the relics (in my expert opinion) appear to be legit.

  23. ““Beautiful, except for the relics of John XXIII and Josemaria Escriva.”

    Did I miss something? The reliquaries are nice and the relics (in my expert opinion) appear to be legit.”

    Some do not accept the canonization of John XXIII, as he was the Pope who opened Vatican II. As far as Escriva, I think it’s because Opus Dei is controversial, some do not think it does good work.

    Not necessarily my opinions, but that’s my understanding.

  24. Kathleen10 says:

    Liturgical Arts will probably cover this, it’s that wonderful. What classic design, the ceiling! The colors, so rich but understated. It’s lovely, and definitely worth a pilgrimage visit. Well done Knoxville.
    But they need to make sure the Liturgy and music are worthy of the space. That may be harder to accomplish.

  25. Simon_GNR says:

    Very impressive and pleasing to behold. A big “thank you” to the bishop(s) who had the vision to commission the building of such a cathedral and to see the project through to completion. I wonder how the diocese raised the money?

  26. Iacobus Mil says:

    Now THAT’s more like it.

  27. InFormationDiakonia says:

    One word – wow!

    That is a very stunning structure dedicated to God.

  28. Speak?

    That’s shouting, proudly, out loud for all to hear. There is no doubt, entering that space, you are in the forecourt of where heaven meets earth.

    Spectacular. Just Spectacular.

  29. Uxixu says:

    Gorgeous. Should have a 3 step predella and though I advocate for the Blessed Sacrament and Tabernacle at the high altar of the parish I’m reminded that the Sacred Congregation of Rites repeatedly admonished bishops to NOT do this in a cathedral, where a side chapel can be of appropriate dignity that isn’t possible in most parish churches.

    One the rubrics of a Pontifical Mass at the Throne require the Blessed Sacrament be reserved (probably for all the deference shown to the Ordinary and second would be unseemly to NOT then give reverence to the tabernacle as well) and secondly, since the chanting of the Divine Office (the traditional Divine Office, of course as the LOTH is nigh unsingable) has the same issue. And lastly, since the rubrics of the novus ordo barely show any reverence to the tabernacle and/or altar.

  30. Fr. Reader says:

    “Beautiful, except for the relics of John XXIII and Josemaria Escriva.”
    Did I miss something? ”

    Yes, you missed that…
    maybe… Dantewoo is struggling with his personal issues and frustrations. We should give space people to complain about things just because. Some people have the psychological feel to complain about something every five minutes.

    Or, perhaps he is Sedevacantist and the last valid Pope was Sixtus III, or he thinks that all canonizations after Pius II or Alexander IV are invalid. Or the opposite, perhaps he is supermodernist and he does not like reliquaries, or thinks that those relics are not inclusive enough.

    Or simply, he just does not like these two saints. We are not obliged to like all saints and put their relics in the places we use to pray.

  31. ex seaxe says:

    Uxixu – the photos above don’t show that there are many more steps 5 or 6, between the nave and the sanctuary, nor the full impact of the view from a pew. A much better 3-dimensional picture comes from a video of Mass. I agree about the tabernacle, it is supposed to be placed to facilitate individual devotion outside Mass, which in a building of this size requires a Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

    And the reliquaries are not aesthetically pleasing to my eye, perhaps again it is the photos and the lighting. They give the impression of being machine stamped out of thin brass sheet. Taking good representative photos if you do not have full control of lighting is near impossible for most of us.

  32. I had the privilege of visiting both the old cathedral (I don’t recall if I actually went to Mass there) and later attending Mass in the new cathedral. The new cathedral is wonderful and traditional, a relief from the uninspired churches that were constructed elsewhere in recent decades.

  33. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks Henry Edwards. Gaetano and Bryan D. Boyle: indeed.

  34. hwriggles4 says:

    Within the last 15 years I have noticed that many newer sanctuaries are being constructed with an attitude of “it’s going to look like a Church and not a bank building. ” I also remember seeing Fr. Pacwa’s show one night on EWTN where a newer parish was constructed using materials from an old church that had been closed and was being demolished. As Fr. Z likes to say “brick by brick. ”

    While I have not been to Knoxville (although over the past several years I have heard good things about that diocese) I also think preserving traditional architecture does depend on who is in the chancery office and who is the bishop. (The parish where I am a part of the Knights built there sanctuary in the early 1990s, and I heard the pastor at the time fought tooth and nail with those in the chancery to have traditional architecture and prevailed).

    I have also seen pictures of the new cathedral that opened not long ago in the Diocese of Raleigh (NC). That also looks like a Church.

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