A national shrine in our backyard? It's official


We've got to give St. Paul a little more credit now that they officially have a national shrine located up on that hill overlooking downtown. The Cathedral of St. Paul, the mother church of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, is now honored as one of the country's 120 national shrines.

The Roman Catholic archdiocese announced the designation Tuesday. It's the first in the state and only one in North America dedicated to Saint Paul.

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"A shrine is considered a place where divine grace is manifested in a very special way -- a place where the human and divine world intersect," according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, responsible for deciding what gets the designation.

The cathedral, which opened for worship in 1915, has been a destination for hundreds of thousands of tourists, schoolchildren on field trips, worshippers, a president and two future popes.

The granite 3,000-seat Beaux Arts structure, topped by a 306-foot-high dome, has long been regarded as an architectural and historical treasure.

"Now it's recognized as a place of national significance spiritually," said the Very Rev. Joseph Johnson, the cathedral's rector.