In 1894, Bishop Camillus Maes, Covington’s third bishop, took a leap of faith and set in motion the building of a cathedral that would be “a token of my love for the city,” and “a monument which will speak for centuries to come of the love of Christ for souls.” Twenty-one years later, in 1915, work ended on what is now the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, probably the most awe-inspiring edifice in Northern Kentucky.
Now, the cathedral is the anchor of its own neighborhood, as city leaders have officially approved the naming of the area around it “Cathedral Square.”
“We are recognizing the incredible contribution that the diocese and the Cathedral have made historically to the city,” says Mayor Joe Meyer. “That’s a really remarkable part of Covington and having its own name will give it an identity that sets it apart.”
Cathedral Square encompasses the two-block square from 11th Street on the north, 12th Street on the south, Scott Street on the east and the railroad tracks on the west. Within those two blocks are the historic Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and its parish rectory and office, the Covington Latin School, the former St. Mary Lyceum, which was expanded and transformed into the diocesan pastoral and administrative offices, and St. Mary Park.
The interior of the Cathedral Basilica was modeled after the Abbey Church of St. Denis in Paris, and the façade was modeled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in that French capital. Inside is world-class artwork, including murals by internationally renowned artist and Covington native Frank Duveneck, and the world’s largest handmade, church stained-glass window, measuring 67 feet by 24 feet.
Remarkably, when construction was halted in 1915, the cathedral was still unfinished, as two 52-feet towers still remain unbuilt.
The church is one of 89 “minor” basilicas in the United States, and the was the eighth to gain such status, in 1953.