California. One of our biggest states that anchors the western coast of the continental United States. Along that western coast lie three of the largest and well known cities in the world. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. The fourth largest city in California, Sacramento, is also its only capital since statehood. How did this location at the meeting of two rivers in a central valley became the capital of one of our largest states?
The two rivers were named American and Sacramento. The Sacramento river was named by Spanish cavalry officer Gabriel Moraga for the Santisimo Sacramento (Blessed Sacrament), referring to the Catholic Eucharist. Efforts to settle in the area would often fail due to large floods or fire, which came to a tipping point in 1850, when 2 major fires and floods devastated the area. News of California's admittance to the union in October brought many new settlers and a cholera epidemic. The first fleck of the California Gold Rush centered Sacramento as a major distribution point and final destination for cross country journeys such as the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental railroad.
Sacramento was chosen as the permanent capital in 1854 and construction started on the current and only Capitol building the state has known in 1860, finishing in 1874. Methodist, Episcopalian, Catholic, and Jewish communities were founded in various parts of the growing city. Earnings from the Gold rush allowed a Irish immigrant Patrick Manogue, born in Ireland in 1831 to attend Saint Sulpice seminary in Paris, France where he was ordained a priest in 1861. He was then appointed as bishop of the growing Sacramento diocese in 1880 because of his experience in the west.
Bishop Manogue began his plans to build a cathedral by securing land close to the state Capitol. He wanted people to see “ Church and State, two important institutions,each pursuing the common good for society,but from different angles.” The cornerstone was laid on June 12, 1887 and the largest church west of the Mississippi stands as tall as the Capitol today, just 2 blocks north of the Capitol grounds. You can research this beautiful cathedral further at this web address. www.cathedralsacramento.org.
My visit in June 2013 started with a parking garage vista of the top of these two magnificent buildings. To my right was the California State Capitol dome, to my left, the steeples of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Little did I know of the connection between this church and this state over a century and a half ago in Sacramento, California. These strolls through history always lead to surprising discoveries. Take some time to discover them yourself.