A cathedral is a church where people gather to pray and worship under the leadership of a bishop. "Cathedral" comes from "Cathedra", the Latin word for "Chair". Therefore, the Cathedral is where we find the Bishop's Chair, a sign of his office and a sign of unity in the diocese, the "Local Church". A Cathedral may be a large beautiful building or a simple small wooden church. What a church looks like is not what is important about a Cathedral. The people and the bishop are what is important.

Sacred Heart Cathedral
422 East 10th Street
Davenport, Iowa 52803

St. Margaret's Chapel
The first church at 10th and LeClaire was named St. Margaret's, and was a gift from Antoine and Marguerite LeClaire. When the new Cathedral was named Sacred Heart, it became the first cathedral in the United States to be so named. The Chapel was given the name of St. Margaret to honor that first gift from the LeClaire's. Today daily Mass is celebrated in this Chapel.

Other Areas of the Cathedral:

CHURCH VESTIBULE - The center original doors have been restored and the side doors have been replaced. The Angels hold holy water with which we bless ourselves. This is a reminder of our Baptism. (The ornate original wooden Baptismal Stand can be found on the platform area by Mary's Altar). To the right is a room used for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and as a bride's room. It was the original Baptistry. Restroom facilities are also located to the right. To the left are the stairs leading to the Choir loft. On the wall is a plaque commemorating the first three bishops who were buried underneath the Cathedral and later moved to Mt. Calvary Cemetery in 1930.

BACK OF CHURCH - Renovated reconciliation rooms are located on the east and west sides. The old "confessionals" are in the center back with the statues of St. Patrick on the east and St. Teresa of Lisieux on the west.

PRIEST AND BISHOP SACRISTY (front, right) - The celebrants prepare for liturgy here. There are also storage places for many items to be used in the services. The altar servers dress in the corridor area that joins the Sacristy and Chapel. The Statue of St. Aloysius, patron of Altar servers, is stationed here.

ORGAN - The old Kilgen organ was removed from the choir loft during the renovation and redecoration of the Cathedral. The Noack Organ Co. near Boston, Massachusetts built a new tracker pipe organ. Fritz Noack is an outstanding organ builder who grew up in East Germany and received most of his training and education there. Following World War II, his family came to the United States. Mr. Noack has built over 100 organs in the U.S. and Japan.

Window above Choir Loft - Pictured are images of an anchor for hope; wheat for bread; crown for Jesus the King; Keys for Peter; the dove for the Holy Spirit; the cross and crown for crucifixion; the chalice and bread for Holy Eucharist; the harp for music and worship.


1 Large Stained Glass window - Jesus appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The angels above are God's messengers.
2 Large Original Altar - Statues of St. Peter on the right and St. Paul on the left. The candlesticks resemble a church. The gold containers are reliquaries in which sacred relics of some saints are kept. The reliefs below are of the sacrifice of Able, Abraham and his Son, Isaac, and the priest, Melchizadek.
3 Bishop's Chair - "Chair" in Latin is 'Cathedra' hence the Cathedral, the church set-aside as the church of the Bishop.
4 The Main Altar - This is the table for Eucharist. Since Vatican II, the altar of celebration faces the people.
5 The Pulpit - The scripture is proclaimed here. The figures around the base are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
6 The Chairs - The center chair is for the presider and the side chairs for the acolytes.
7 Mary's Altar - The statue of Mary in the center, St. Benedict, father of Western Monasticism, on the left and St. Thomas Aquinas on the right. Below Mary is the tabernacle, which holds the consecrated hosts for Comunion to the sick. At the base of the altar is a relief of the end of Mary’s life on earth.
8 Picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe - patroness of the Americas.
9 Sanctuary Lamp- Eternal Flame - means Eucharist is present in the tabernacle.
10 Stations of the Cross - There are fourteen scenes (along the east and west walls of the church) depicting Jesus' passion.
11 Tall Stained Glass Windows - These are on the east and west walls of the church and picture the twelve apostles along with many colorful designs.
12 Pews - These seats for the congregation are the original oak pews that have been refurbished.
13 St. Joseph's Altar - Statue of St. Joseph in the center, St. Ignatius of Loyola on the left and St. Anthony of Padua on the right. At the base of the altar is a relief of Joseph on his death bed with Mary and Jesus at his side. St. Joseph is considered the patron for a happy death, since tradition says he died in the presence of Jesus & Mary
14 St. Margaret of Scotland - This painting is the work of I. Schmitt, and dates back to 1873. It was hung behind the altar in the original church at this site. The painting was severely damaged in removing it from the old church. It was restored in 1990 at the Intermuseum Laboratory, Oberlin, Ohio.



In 1856, due to rapid population growth, it was decided that Davenport needed a new Catholic Church. Antoine LeClaire offered a parcel of land for the new church. He eventually assumed the entire expense of the building project. On June 29, 1856, Bishop Mathias Loras of Dubuque, laid the cornerstone. The new church was a wooden structure, measuring forty feet by eighty feet. It was named St. Margaret's both in honor of LeClaire's wife, Marguerite and St. Margaret of Scotland. The first pastor was Father Andrew Trevis.

On May 91 1881, word came from Rome that Davenport was to be named the seat of a new diocese in the "Iowa Territory". The Very Reverend John McMullen from Chicago was named the first bishop. He chose St. Margaret's as his cathedral. Bishop McMullen died in July, 1884. Father Henry Cosgrove was named to succeed him.

On March 3, 1889, Bishop Cosgrove advised that a new, larger structure be built for the cathedral. On June 8, 1889, architect J. J. Egan of Chicago presented plans for the new edifice. They were approved and ground was broken the following week. The contract was let to Walsh & Edwards of Davenport. Laying of the foundation began on July 24, 1889. The cornerstone was laid on April27, 1890. Formal dedication was on November 15, 1891

Bishop Cosgrove petitioned Pope Leo, XIII, to allow the name of the new cathedral to be changed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was to be the first cathedral in the United States dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Permission was granted, providing a chapel be erected and maintained, dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland. On completion of this structure, the painting of St. Margaret, which had hung in the cathedral, was moved to the chapel.

Sacred Heart Cathedral is constructed of Bedford stone, mined in Indiana. The style of the cathedral was influenced by the Ecclesiological Society. This group was dedicated to preserving the authenticity of early Gothic churches. The society used the English parish church as a model.

On August 20, 1928, lightning struck the cathedral, causing a fire under the roof between the slates and the ceiling. Smoke and water damage was extensive. Services were held in the chapel during repairs. The ceiling was repainted in a Gothic design. The woodwork was refinished in a dark English oak stain to bide the fire damage.

In 1962 Vatican II decreed many changes which were designed to make the liturgy more accessible to the faithful. Instead of Latin, the Mass is now celebrated in the vernacular. The main altar faces the people. The communion rail and the elevated pulpit were removed. The Bishop's chair was moved so that it faces the congregation.

In 1990, through the generosity of the Elizabeth Kahl Figge estate, the interior of the church was redecorated and a new roof installed. Through a c6mmunity effort, funds were raised to purchase a new pipe organ, which was installed for Christmas 1991.

The essence of the Cathedral, however, is the people. The present school has operated since 1915, although the original St. Margaret's School was started in 1859. St. Ambrose University was started at St. Margaret's and operated here its first two years. In the 1980's, spear-headed by Monsignor Menke, the Clothing Center was established in the basement of the Cathedral. It offers free clothes to those in need. A Food Pantry was also established. Later, Sacred Heart was one of the founding parishes for Quad Cities Interfaith and later started Interfaith Housing, a non-profit corporation to rehab houses in the neighborhood.