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Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco gives a tour of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, May 24, 2021. Credit: Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco.

San Francisco, Calif., May 25, 2021 / 12:01 pm (CNA).

Marking the 50th anniversary of the blessing of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone led a tour of the church for students of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on Monday.

“Shortly after the new Cathedral was built, Dorothy Day reminded us all that there is a hunger for beauty as well as for bread, and that the beauty of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption is as accessible to the homeless in the Tenderloin as it is to the mayor of San Francisco,” Archbishop Cordileone said ahead of the May 24 event.

“This great Cathedral in the heart of this great city is a treasure for all and a witness to God’s grace.  I’m very happy to be sharing it with students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, another San Francisco treasure.”

More than 35 students attended the tour, which was arranged by the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship.

Nikolaus Hohmann, chairman of the humanities department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, said the cathedral “is one of the most iconic landmarks of San Francisco, still striking in its modernity after 50 years. Its soaring interior is considered one of the most extraordinary interior spaces in all of modern architecture and one of the great engineering accomplishments of its time. This is an opportunity for Conservatory students to experience and appreciate one of the great artistic, cultural and religious monuments of San Francisco.”

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption is the third building erected to serve as mother church to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Old St. Mary’s Cathedral was dedicated in 1854. It still stands, but was superseded by the first Assumption cathedral, a larger building, in 1891. The first Assumption cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1962. 

Ground breaking for the construction of the present Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption took place in 1965, and the cornerstone was blessed in 1967. The building was completed in 1970, and blessed May 5, 1971. Its dedication was completed in 1996.

The cathedral design was a joint project of local architects Angus McSweeney, Paul Ryan, and John Lee, along with Pietro Belluschi and Pier Luigi Nervi.