St. Matthew's Cathedral is at 1725 Rhode Island Ave. N.W. Established in 1840, St. Matthew's was originally located at 15th and H streets N.W. Construction of the present church began in 1893; it was dedicated in 1913 and designated a cathedral in 1939, when the Archdiocese of Washington was created.
Honoring the patron saint of civil servants, the cathedral plays a major role in Catholic life in the nation's capital. Masses are attended by Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Washington. President John F. Kennedy's funeral Mass took place here on Nov. 25, 1963, and Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1979.
The interior, designed by New York architect C. Grant La Farge, is magnificent. The lofty dome rises 190 feet, and the walls are covered with beautiful mosaics. The main altar is white marble, decorated with semi-precious stones that form floral designs. A mosaic of St. Matthew, 35 feet high and 13 feet wide, shows the saint holding a book containing a passage from his gospel. Directly above is another mosaic depicting the angels of the Crucifixion.
Located near Dupont Circle, St. Matthew's is a lovely, peaceful retreat from downtown Washington's clamor. Walk-in visitors who step inside for a few moments of quiet reflection or to view items of interest should respect those who are there to worship.
Guided tours are available.
Hours: Visitors may enter the sanctuary Sun.-Fri. 6:30-6:30 (also Sun. 6:30-7 p.m.), Sat. 7:30-7, Sept.-June; Mon.-Sat. 7:30-6:30 (also Sat. 6:30-7 p.m.), Sun. 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m., rest of year. Phone for holiday hours. Sunday masses are given at 7, 8:30, 10 (in Latin), 11:30, 1 (in Spanish) and 5:30. Guided tours are available by appointment.