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Copper-clad dome caps Raleigh cathedral project

Posted March 9
Updated March 10

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— With the placement of a 160-ton dome, the outline of Holy Name of Jesus cathedral in Raleigh came into focus.

The dome marks a major milestone in the construction of the cathedral, the future home eastern North Carolina Catholics.

A special crane, built on site, lifted the steel-and-copper structure into place beginning around 8 a.m. Construction crews raise dome of new Catholic cathedral in Raleigh Raw: Crews raise dome of new Catholic cathedral in Raleigh

"Dome comes from the Latin 'domus,' which means 'home,'" said Billy Atwell, communication director for the diocese. "The cathedral is the spiritual home for Catholics throughout North Carolina, and the placement of this dome on top is sort of a symbol for us and a reminder of what it is we're actually building here."

Raising the dome from the ground and lowering it onto the cathedral frame took about an hour. Securing it to the building was expected to take the rest of the day, Atwell said. For a structure built to last 300 years, that is but a drop in the bucket.

"We've never built anything like this. As you could imagine, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to be able to provide this but also be able to witness it," Atwell said.

By fall of 2017, the cathedral will be open and serving an estimated 2,000 worshippers at a time. The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral is an upgrade for North Carolina Catholics over the current Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh.

The smallest Catholic cathedral in the United States, Sacred Heart's 320 seats require 11 Masses each weekend to accommodate all comers.

Cathedral sketch

"The ability to bring everybody under one roof, or at least as many as possible, is really important, and it reflects the growth of the diocese that we've seen since those early days," Atwell said.

With construction visible from Centennial Parkway and Western Boulevard, the crews are used to people stopping to take pictures of their progress.

"I work just down the street, so we've been watching the structure go up week by week," said Michael Terreri. "Seeing the dome go on top is going to be pretty neat."

The dome is 65 feet tall and, because of the elevation of the cathedral site off Centennial Parkway, is visible from almost every part of downtown Raleigh and beyond. The sight, Atwell said, will help establish its purpose – bringing people together in fellowship. He expects it will draw the faithful and the fallen away.

"We’re hoping it’ll be a moment to kind of bring them home a little bit," he said. "Beauty draws people naturally. They want to know more when they see something beautiful.

"The cathedral is obviously a spiritual symbol for Catholics. It’s also a spiritual symbol, hopefully, for non-Catholics as well, that we can come together and worship and praise God."

The entire cathedral construction project will cost an estimated $41 million.


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  • Wayne Rossignol Mar 10, 2016
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  • Gabe Quirk Mar 10, 2016
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    That's pretty heavy! Weighs the same as about 198,700 average squirrels.

  • Wayne Rossignol Mar 10, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    . Right on Allison. They don't believe in what Jesus said...feed the hungry and cloth the poor.

  • Wayne Rossignol Mar 10, 2016
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    Hmm, I wondering if of the Saintly Catholics could reiterate the story of the GOLDEN CALF? Seems to me there are a lot of similarities between the dome/church and the golden calf. The heck with the poor and hungry....we gonna build us a "mega church"...just like the Biltmore. AMEN

  • Jonathan Barnes Mar 10, 2016
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    Oddly enough, different people are interested in different things (extremely hard concept to grasp, i know) . For example, I couldn't care less that there is a new church being built, or what it looks like. I am, however, very interested in the way this structure was built, and the immensely complicated method in which the dome was erected and put into position. Honestly, this could be a headline simply because there are only 3 or 4 cranes in the world capable of doing what they did this morning with that dome. So yeah, that's why some people might be interested in it.

  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 10, 2016
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    And people think solar arrays and wind farms are eye sores. Yuck! Such a waste of money, and lost revenue for our citizens via special rights to not have to pay taxes.

    At least it employed people (temporarily), I guess...

  • Steven Camilli Mar 10, 2016
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    What a waste of money.

  • Patty MacRae Mar 10, 2016
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    Well, as for it's placement of being a headline, I leave that to the editors. As for people who care, I am one of more than 225,000 registered Catholics in the Diocese of Raleigh whose children thrived in Catholic Schools. There are now more than 30,000 children who are currently benefitting from a Catholic education (school or parish led programs). So, yes--people care. And it will be a beautiful addition to the Raleigh skyline- just wait!

  • Allison Blanchard Mar 10, 2016
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    Why do you think anyone cares enough about this terrible looking eyesore for it to be the headline news? How is this headline news????