Mayor approves name of ‘Cathedral Square’ surrounding the seat of the diocese

Laura Keener, Editor.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer and city commissioners unanimously approved the naming of the area around the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption “Cathedral Square.” The order was read and approved Tuesday, Dec. 1 during the City Council meeting.

“It was unanimous and it’s a recognition that’s long overdue,” said Mayor Meyer.

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 is 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 Curia, and St. Mary Park. Mark Guilfoyle, partner, DBL Law and one of the lead organizers of the St. Mary Park project, had approached Mayor Meyer about the possibility of designating the area Cathedral Square. The order recognizes the history and significance these buildings and the people of the Diocese have made to the city of Covington.

“In this way we are recognizing the incredible contribution that the diocese and the Cathedral has made historically to the city, and its current contribution and its future contribution because of the density of the diocesan investment in the area,” said Mayor Meyer. “That’s a really remarkable part of Covington and having its own name will give it an identity that sets it apart.”

Bishop Camillus Maes, Covington’s third bishop, whose vision and vigor brought Covington’s Cathedral into reality, built the Cathedral as “a token of my love for the city by erecting in it a monument which will speak for centuries to come of the love of Christ for souls.” The naming of Cathedral Square is a fitting continuation of his “ambition,” which has been adopted and cultivated by his predecessors, including Bishop Roger Foys.

“I am grateful to His Honor Mayor Meyer and the City Commissioners for designating the two blocks around our Cathedral Basilica as Cathedral Square,” said Bishop Foys. “It is a tribute to the faithful of the Diocese of Covington as well as to my nine predecessors and especially to the third Bishop of Covington, Camillus Maes, who, along with the faithful of his time, took a leap of faith in building this beautiful house to the Lord. I am grateful also to Mark Guilfoyle for his invaluable assistance in this project. Bishop Maes loved the City of Covington and I join him in that sentiment. It is a wonderful place to live!”

Order designating “Cathedral Square”

WHEREAS, Pope Pius IX established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington (“Diocese”) on July 29, 1853;

WHEREAS, the seat of the Diocese, the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, is an art and architectural gem that will be treasured for centuries;

WHEREAS, construction of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, located at 1130 Madison Avenue, began in 1894;

WHEREAS, the interior of the Cathedral Basilica was designed by Leon Coquard under the direction of Bishop Camillus Maes and was modeled after the Abbey Church of St. Denis in Paris. The façade of the Cathedral was designed by David Davis and was modeled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris;

WHEREAS, the interior of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption boasts world class artwork, including the following: (i) murals by internationally renowned artist and Covington native Frank Duvenek; (ii) the world’s largest handmade church stained glass window measuring 67 feet x 24 feet, depicting the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., and manufactured by Mayer Studios in Munich, Germany; (iii) mosaic stations of the cross depicting Christ’s passion and death, created in tiny porcelain ceramic tiles and mother of pearl and based on the original oil paintings of Bavarian Redemptorist Brother Max Schmalzl; and (iv) three significant organs, including the historic Matthias Schwab tracker organ built in 1859 and moved to the Cathedral in 1970 when the nearby St. Joseph Church was razed and the Wicks pipe organ in the south transept (circa 1930);

WHEREAS, the Madison Avenue façade of the Cathedral Basilica was added between 1908 and 1910 and construction terminated in 1915, with two 52’ towers remaining unbuilt;

WHEREAS, the façade features additional artwork, including the following: (i) a stunning bas relief over the central tympanum sculpted by Clement Barnhorn, depicting the Assumption of Mary; and (ii) statues of saints and additional bas reliefs added to the remaining two tympana in 2020;

WHEREAS, the Covington Latin High School is located immediately to the north of the Cathedral at 21 East 11th Street and offers an accelerated and challenging high school experience resulting in exceptional academic success for its graduates;

WHEREAS, the Covington Latin School building was dedicated on December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day), and its expansion was dedicated on December 7, 2011;

WHEREAS, the Covington Latin School has prepared many of the professional, legal, medical, judicial and governmental leaders in Northern Kentucky;

WHEREAS, the former St. Mary’s Elementary School was housed in the “Cathedral Lyceum” building, which was dedicated in 1954 and located at 1125 Madison Avenue;

WHEREAS, the Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese, moved the pastoral and administrative offices of the Diocese (the “Curia”) from Erlanger to the former St. Elizabeth North building, located on 21st Street, in 2005;

WHEREAS, in 2012 the Diocese undertook to preserve the Cathedral Lyceum building as it constructed modern offices attached to the Cathedral Lyceum building in the same way that the original Covington Latin School building was preserved in concert with a modern addition to the facility;

WHEREAS, the renovated Cathedral Lyceum building was dedicated on November 15, 2014, and the Curia was relocated from the St. Elizabeth North building to the new Curia headquarters of the Diocese, ensuring that the Curia will be located in the See City of Covington for many decades to come;

WHEREAS, the Diocese renovated the former bank building at the corner of 11th Street and Madison Avenue in order to provide massing on that street corner in an architectural style that complements the addition to the Cathedral Lyceum building;

WHEREAS, the Cathedral parish offices moved into the renovated bank building in November 2014;

WHEREAS, Bishop Foys oversaw the construction of St. Mary’s Park at the corner of 12th Street and Madison Avenue. St. Mary’s Park features a striking bronze statue of Mary and Jesus, which was sculpted by David Frech of Beacon, New York;

WHEREAS, St. Mary’s Park was dedicated on October 29, 2016;

WHEREAS, St. Mary’s Park is open to the public during daytime hours and serves as Northern Kentucky’s “Fountain Square”;

WHEREAS, the foregoing structures form a natural district that is worthy of distinction.

NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that the two-block area bounded by Scott Street on the east, 11th Street on the north, railroad tracks on the west, and 12th Street on the south is hereby designated as “Cathedral Square” as a means to celebrate the significance of the structures located within that area of Covington.