St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Honolulu was created through the support of a royal family that never worshipped there. King Kamehameha IV and his consort, Queen Emma, invited the Anglican Church to Hawaii. They planned a baptism for their young son Albert as the first member of the church. His tragic death at the age of four meant that Queen Emma became the first baptized in the new Hawaii missionary diocese.

In anticipation of the arrival of the first Bishop, King Kamehameha IV translated much of the Book of Common Prayer into the Hawaiian language and had written a Preface explaining the religion to his people. The royal couple also donated land for the cathedral. However, neither monarch lived to see the completion of the project to which they gave so much support.

The King died at the age of 29 on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, 1863 – just 15 months after the death of his young son. His successor, King Kamehameha V, dedicated the cathedral to St. Andrew as his brother’s memorial. Queen Emma remained personally involved in the construction of the cathedral. She traveled to England to raise money and commission architects and purchased stone in France.

During the twenty years it took for the building to be completed, services were held in a temporary cathedral made of wood. The corner stone of the new stone cathedral was laid on March 5, 1867. The building style is called “Early French Gothic Revival.” According to church history, it is a recreation of the style of most parish churches in England in the late Middle Ages. The first phase of the cathedral was finished in time for Christmas, 1886 but the young Queen had died a year earlier.

A further section of the building was finished two years later. By 1908 the great stone altar was installed. The altar, pulpit and lectern are made of the stone quarried in Caen, Normandy France and executed in Boston. A final narthex was completed in 1957. It holds the baptismal font given by Lady Jane Franklin to King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma for the baptism of their son. The font arrived in 1862, the same year Albert died but before the first bishop reached Hawaii.

A pamphlet is available for a self-guided tour of the Cathedral, or guided tours are given following the 10 am service each Sunday.

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