St Andrew’s Cathedral Honolulu has Royal Roots

Honolulu Cathedral
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Hawaii is full of eye-catching cathedrals and churches. The islands’ missionary history and architectural trends mean that there’s a lot to see and learn about the religious sites you’ll find here. St. Andrew’s Cathedral Honolulu has a fascinating (and royal!) history.

The History of St. Andrew’s Cathedral Honolulu

The Cathedral of St. Andrew (commonly called St. Andrew’s Cathedral) rose through the support of a royal family that never worshipped there. 

Tragic Beginnings

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. Unfortunately, their son died a tragic death at the age of four. So Queen Emma became the first baptized in the new Hawaii missionary diocese.

Royal Religion

In anticipation of the arrival of the first Bishop, King Kamehameha IV translated much of the Book of Common Prayer into the Hawaiian language. He also wrote 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. That was 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.

The Architecture of St. Andrew’s Cathedral Honolulu

St. Andrew Cathedral in Honolulu

During the twenty years it took for the building to be completed, services were held in a temporary cathedral made of wood. Builders laid the cornerstone of the new stone cathedral on March 5, 1867. The building style of St. Andrew’s Cathedral Honolulu is “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. They completed the first phase of the cathedral in time for Christmas, 1886. But the young Queen had died a year earlier.

A further section of the building opened two years later. By 1908, the installation of the great stone altar was complete. The altar, pulpit, and lectern are made of stone from Caen, Normandy, France. They were created 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.

St Andrew's Cathedral Honolulu

St. Andrew’s Cathedral Honolulu Today

Today, St. Andrew’s serves as an Episcopal church in Honolulu. It’s located downtown on Queen Emma Square, across the street from The No. 1 Capitol District Building (and the Capitol Modern Hawaii State Art Museum). 

A pamphlet is available for a self-guided tour of the Cathedral so that you can see its royal wonder for yourself.