St. Mary’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, will celebrate its 50th anniversary May 5 with a vespers service led by Archbishop Cordileone.

To celebrate the jubilee year of the cathedral, known formally as the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, the archdiocese will offer a lecture series during the year and hold an art exhibit in October.

“What we decided to do as we put this thing together was to sing the praises of the last 50 years,” Deacon Christoph Sandoval, chair of the jubilee organizing committee, said.

On May 31, Jesuit Father Dorian Llywelyn will lecture on the historical background and belief in Mary’s assumption. Anthony Belluschi, son of one of the principal cathedral architects, Pietro Belluschi, will speak in August about his father’s architecture and legacy. An October lecture will have a Vatican specialist discuss art preservation, and in November a presentation in Spanish will discuss the spirituality of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the muralist who made the cathedral’s Guadalupe mosaic.

From Oct. 1-5 young Catholic artists will exhibit their work at the cathedral and hold a lecture on the future of Catholic art. At that year’s Rosary Rally Oct. 2, a new statue of St. Mary of the Assumption will be unveiled and used in a procession.

The cathedral is the center of the archdiocese’s liturgical celebrations and has welcomed important figures over the years, including Bishop Fulton Sheen, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II and has witnessed the funerals of a cardinal, mayor, bishops and countless others.

Archbishop Joseph McGucken was faced with building a new cathedral less than six months after he was installed in the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1962, when the former cathedral at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and O’Farrell Street burned down….

Pietro Belluschi, dean of MIT’s architectural school, and Italian architect Pier-Luigi Nervi led the cathedral design team, while local architect Paul Ryan was responsible for many of its details. Cathedral construction broke ground in 1965 and on May 5, 1971, the new cathedral was formally blessed.

At its start, the cathedral attracted controversy over its $9 million price tag and design. It has since been appreciated by architects and tourists, but has long attracted derision locally. Msgr. John Talesfore, rector of the cathedral 2005-2015, said while growing up, his family often drove by the construction site, and his mother remarked it would be better as a skating rink. At the time, he recalled, “I never really appreciated it.”

As a priest, and especially while serving as cathedral rector and pastor for a decade, he came to see it not only as an “architectural and engineering marvel,” but as a touchstone of Catholic life in the archdiocese.

“I was awestruck by the noble simplicity of the cathedral and the awesome integrity of it, as a unified art form, at the service of the church and its worship,” he said….

The above comes from an April 30 story in Catholic San Francisco.