123 years ago today, on 25 May 1887, the church of St. Joseph was consecrated by Msgr. Pieter Snickers, the Archbishop of Utrecht. At the time, Groningen was part of his archdiocese. The church was built for the people of the then newly built Oosterpoort area of the city, where mainly working class families lived. Hence the choice of St. Joseph the Worker as patron of the church.
Over the course of the years the interior of the church developed into what we know today: stained-glass windows, rich colours and beautiful altar pieces. In 1974 the St. Joseph church became a national monument and in 1980 it became the cathedral of the Diocese of Groningen, which had been created from the Archdiocese of Utrecht in 1955. Originally, the cathedral had been the St. Martin across from the Academy building of the university – now the site of the University library – but that was ultimately sold and demolished.
The cathedral is a design by renowned architect Pierre Cuypers, also responsible for many other churches, as well as the train stations in Groningen and Amsterdam, and also the Rijksmuseum.
On the date of a church’s consecration we celebrate the fact that we not only have a physical building to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments in, but also that Christ established His Church for His people, and that we are part of it.