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Nearly ten years ago, I road tripped from Alabama to Colorado, traveling along Interstate 70 through all of Kansas. Along the way were billboards and advertisements that mentioned the “Cathedral of the Plains”. As one that has a keen interest in art and architecture, I was certainly intrigued. After all, I remembered all those art classes that I took in high school where we spent so much time learning about the historic European cathedrals. I couldn’t get enough of the towers and spires, beautiful stained glass windows and Gothic architecture. I made a mental note to visit this cathedral on the way home, and I did.
The Cathedral of the Plains, or Basilica of St. Fidelis, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. It is a magnificent building, perhaps not as ornate on the outside as I had pictured in my mind, but certainly regal for a small prairie town. And for one that was built between 1908 and 1911, it’s mightily impressive. At the time it was built, it was the largest church west of the Mississippi.
The website states that the church welcomes over 16,000 visitors a year. I’m certainly not surprised, as there were two other tourists outside snapping pictures when I was there. The church is open for visitors, a fact that alluded me on that first visit so I made a mental note that if I ever returned to the area, I’d take a peek inside. Only when I finally passed through Kansas a second time, it was at night and the cathedral was locked up. It took me three visits to Victoria Kansas to finally get a glimpse of what laid beyond the huge wooden doors. It was worth the wait.
St. Fidelis Church is not a true cathedral since a bishop is not seated there, but received the nickname in 1912. It has been designated as one of the religious treasures of the state by the Kansas State Historical Society and voted as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas in 2007. When it comes to Kansas tourist attractions, the St. Fidelis Church is a gem.
If you happen to be road tripping through Kansas, and need to stretch your legs, make sure that you stop… and… go inside thisVictoria cathedral! I promise you, it will be well worth your time. You’ll find the church at 601 10th St., conveniently located minutes off I-70.
Don’t miss out on seeing the inside of this gem like I did! You can find more information about this beauty at the St. Fidelis Website or by calling 785-735-2777.
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