Mural paintings, interior paneling, statues of carved wood and other adornments were completed in 1918, and by Christmas 1918 it was ready for the celebration of midnight Mass.
In 1924, the bishop made his first official visit to Rome, returning with a number of rare paintings and examples of antique religious art for the cathedral.
When he died Jan. 26, 1926, the diocese was in severe financial straits. It would take two bishops to finally retire the debt before the cathedral could be consecrated on Nov. 28, 1936.
Because no permanent endowment fund was established to maintain the cathedral, it would be nearly 40 years until the sixth diocesan shepherd, Bishop Lennox Federal, noted advanced deterioration and began a million-dollar fundraising campaign. Sandstone pieces from crumbling towers were replaced with reinforced concrete, pinnacles were replaced, roof work was completed and new gargoyles were installed in the late 1970s.
Interior renovation was finally completed from 1991 to 1993 under the direction of Bishop William Weigand, with the assistance of several local businessmen as fundraisers, including industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr., a Latter-day Saint.
Cost for the restoration work: $10.4 million.
Today, the cathedral appears to visitors to be in good working order, but Bishop John Wester said the diocese "needs megabucks" to create an endowment "so the interest can subsidize the annual operating budget" and maintenance expenses for the building in perpetuity.
During a recent open house visit with Elder M. Russell Ballard at the LDS Church's new temple in Draper, "I told him I was so jealous because they build these great temples and they are all paid for before they open."
The new Catholic cathedral in Oakland cost $180 million, he said, "and they still have a deficit of $40 million to $60 million."
Maintaining the Cathedral of the Madeleine in good repair for future generations "is an issue we're going to deal with and a challenge we're facing. But I trust in God's providence and goodness. He has brought us this far for 100 years, and he won't abandon us as we forge ahead for the next 100."
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