The Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is a Romanesque Revival style cathedral church and a minor basilica located in Charleston, West Virginia. Along with the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, it is the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The parish complex is a contributing property in the Downtown Charleston Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sacred Heart Parish began to grow has a major spiritual center
for Charleston in the late 1800s. After visits from several major priests,
including Bishop Richard Whelan from the Diocese of Richmond, the settlers of
Charleston decided it need a sacramental area. In 1862. Father Joseph W.
Stenger organized the Catholic Church in the area. While in Charleston, Father
Joseph would have to hold Mass in private homes until a permanent area would be
purchased to hold a temporary church. Bishop Whelan would purchase a two-story
brick house on the corner of Broad and Quarrier streets.
Father Joseph W. Stenger came to United States in 1837 from
Germany with a German heritage. Growing up in Wheeling, Stenger regularly
served under Bishop Richard V. Whelan. Showing interest in being a priest, his
parents wanted to help reduce the associated cost; however, they were unable to afford
those finances. To alleviate the financial burden of attending seminary, Stenger would work
in Bishop Whelan's house. Once gaining the funds, he attended St. Vincent's
School before moving on to St. Charles' College. Stenger eventuall traveled to
France for study. He gained his priesthood on September 27, 1862 and began to
learn under tutelage of Bishop Whelan.
Believing the existing church too small for his congregation,
Stenger decided to begin the process to gain a larger church. Funds for the
church were taken up beginning in 1885 along the foundations being laid by
Bishop Donahue. The church was completed prior to the death of Stenger. His 34
years of priesthood and leadership would lay the foundation of the church.
Father Stenger would die on October 30, 1900, at the age of sixty-five. Under
the leadership of Father Constantine, the bell of old church was added to new
church. Father Agatho Rolthe, a member of the Roman Capuchins, decided to lay
the foundation of the rectory built on the site. This first brick was laid in
Through decades of building and
work on sustaining a consistent congregation, the Sacred Heart Church underwent many changes. The largest of the changes were the names and designations held. On
October 4, 1972, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston designated Sacred Heart a co-cathedral. The fifth bishop of Wheeling, Bishop Joseph Hodges, obtained this
approval directly from the Vatican in Rome. This approval would realign the diocese
to show the significant presence of the Catholic Church in the southern
counties of West Virginia. In 2007, the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral gained the honor of being named a Diocesan Shrine of Santo Nino
de Cebu to indicate the vibrant faith of the community. Santo Nino de Cebu represented
the vast array of members who came from various national and ethnic backgrounds.
Then, in 2009, the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral Parish was termed a minor
basilica. In 2017-18, the parish underwent a major
renovation that includes many artifacts from Rome. Relics of St. Kateri Tekawitha, St. John XXIII, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton are in the altar at the front of