Historic ‘home for Christ’ has new home in St. Benedict Cathedral

Special to The Message

Every tabernacle in every Catholic church is home to Christ. Tabernacles contain consecrated hosts, which have become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.

Inside the newly renovated St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville is a tabernacle that is new to our diocesan cathedral – but with a legacy that dates to the very founding of St. Benedict Parish.

The restored tabernacle as in the chapel of the former Poor Clares Monastery on Kentucky Avenue, where members of St. Benedict Parish met for Mass for more than a year after St. Pope Pius X established the parish in December 1912. The Message photo by Jay Hamlin

In September 1912, Benedictine Father Martin Hoppenjans of Saint Meinrad Archabbey was assigned to be the founding pastor of the soon-to-be-established St. Benedict Parish in Evansville. Father Martin arrived in Evansville on Nov. 6, 1912, and took up residence in the guest house of the Poor Clare Monastery on Kentucky Avenue. Bishop Joseph Chartrand of Indianapolis established the new parish on Dec. 1, 1912.

Without a church to call home, the parish began meeting for Mass on the public side of the Poor Clare Monastery chapel. The tabernacle now in St. Benedict Cathedral is the tabernacle that was in the monastery chapel.

After the Poor Clares moved to Evansville’s west side, historical and anecdotal evidence reveals that the tabernacle from the monastery chapel made its way to a few Evansville parishes before ending up in possession of Knights of Columbus Council #7544. The Knights used the tabernacle in their council house on Willow Road for several years – until a water pipe burst and did enough damage to force demolition of the house.

Members of Council #7544 moved the tabernacle to the bell tower of St. Benedict Parish for storage. Following the decision to return the tabernacle to use in the renovated cathedral, the parish sent it to the F.C. Ziegler Co., in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for restoration. Ziegler’s fabricated the two-piece dome that now sits atop the tabernacle.

In discussing the fully restored tabernacle, Benedictine Father Godfrey Mullen, rector of the cathedral, said, “It's a beautiful part of our first days as a parish and now a part of our future – always calling us to the real presence of the living Christ.”

The tabernacle in the renovated St. Benedict Cathedral is directly behind the altar. The Message photo by Jay Hamlin