Dakota Datebook

Bishop Shanley

Saturday, December 27, 2003

On this date in 1889, Right Reverend John Shanley was consecrated as the first Catholic Bishop in North Dakota.

Some of the state’s first Catholics settled around the James and Pipestem river valley around 1872; visiting missionary priests used, among other sites, a railroad boxcar for celebrating Mass.

By 1883, a campaign was launched to build a cathedral in Jamestown. They campaigned heavily, and in 1889, Cardinal Simeoni in Rome gave permission. Papal bulls confirming the appointment and fixing the See at Jamestown were drafted, and John Shanley was consecrated the first bishop.

Bishop Shanley moved the See to Fargo just two years later, renaming it the Fargo Dioceses. But, Jamestown’s grand St. Paul Cathedral still stands as a testament to the early Catholics who once worshiped in a boxcar.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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