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Brief History of Myeongdong Cathedral
1890: Construction Preparation
Bishop Jean M. Blanc, the 7th Bishop of Seoul, purchased land in the then Jonghyeon district with the intention of building a church.
1892: Ground-breaking Ceremony
On May 8, 1892, Bishop August Mutel, the 8th Bishop of Seoul, held the ground-breaking ceremony and blessed the cornerstone. The name list of the ceremony participants and those who had devoted themselves to the Korean Church were buried under the cornerstone.
On May 29, 1898, the Day of Pentecost, Bishop Mutel celebrated the consecration of Myeongdong Cathedral.
1900: Enshrining the Bodies of the Martyrs
While the canonization of the martyrs was in process, the exhumation of their remains also began. Within 10 years, 16 bodies of the martyrs who had been killed during Gihae and Byeongo Persecution were enshrined in the basement church of Myeongdong Cathedral.
1942: The First Native Korean Bishop
In January, 1942, Father Noh Gi-nam was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of Seoul. His installation ceremony was celebrated in Myeongdong Cathedral on January 18. Bishop Noh became the first native Korean Bishop after the founding of the Korean Church. On the very left of the photo, you can see young Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk in the front who attended the installation Mass at that time.
1948: The 50th Anniversary of Completion of the Cathedral
On May 29, 1948, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was installed in front of Myeongdong Cathedral to celebrate its 50th anniversary of completion.
1950: Korean War
During the Korean War, the interior structure of Myeongdong Cathedral was seriously damaged when the North Korean troops occupied the place. However, the Cathedral luckily survived the bomb attacks of nearby area and became a refuge for many people after the war.
1962: Establishment of the Korean Church Hierarchy
In acknowledgment of the growth and independence of the Korean Church, the Roman Curia enforced official hierarchy and established 11 dioceses in Korea. Seoul, Daegu, and Gwangju became Archdioceses. A Holy Mass was celebrated in Myeongdong Cathedral to mark the special event.
1968: Installation of the 12th Archbishop of Seoul
In 1968, Bishop Stephen Kim Sou-hwan was appointed as Archbishop of Seoul. The installation Mass was celebrated in Myeongdong Cathedral on May 20. In April, 1969, Archbishop Kim was appointed as Cardinal, making him the first Cardinal of Korea.
1984: Pope John Paul II's Official Visit
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Catholic Church of Korea and the canonization of 103 martyrs, Pope John Paul II visited the Archdiocese of Seoul. The Pope came to Myeongdong Cathedral, gave blessings, and prayed for the Korean people.
1987: Center of Human Rights, Democratization Movements
During the turbulent period of the 70s and 80s, the Korean Catholic Church played an important role in movements concerning human rights and democratization. Many related social activities took place in Myeongdong Cathedral.
1998: The 100th Anniversary of Consecration
On May 29, 1998, Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan concelebrated Holy Mass with Archbishop Giovanni Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea, and the Conference of Bishops to mark the 100th anniversary of the consecration of Myeongdong Cathedral and the 30th anniversary of Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan's installation as Cardinal.
2000: Maintenance Work of the Cathedral
As the Great Millennium of the year 2000 began, the maintenance work of Myeongdong Cathedral, including replacement of the bell and repairment of the outer wall and inner facilities also began. The picture was taken at the consecration of the new bell held by then Archbishop Cheong Jin-suk.
2009: Death of Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan
Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, the first Cardinal of the Korean Church and a key figure in promoting democracy in the country, died on February 16, 2009. While his body was laid in Myeongdong Cathedral, citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic, queued up to pay their respects.
2012: Installation of the 14th Archbishop of Seoul
Bishop Yeom Soo-jung was appointed as the new leader of the Archdiocese of Seoul, making him the 14th Archbishop of Seoul. His installation Mass was held on July 25, 2012, in Myeongdong Cathedral.