Exterior

As it stands facing the earthly city, St. James Cathedral offers a vision of the heavenly city.  In 1907, when the Cathedral was dedicated, St. James was Seattle's skyline, visible from all parts of the city.  Today, the Cathedral stands in the heart of an ever-growing urban center.  But it still extends an invitation to the city to enter and experience a foretaste of the heavenly city.  The 167-foot towers are a visible reminder of God's presence, and the six bells at the top of the south tower ring out a daily invitation to the entire community to come and see.  As the inscription at the threshold of the Cathedral reminds us, this is domus Dei, porta coeli - house of God, gate of heaven.

I am the vine, you are the branches

The black and gold window on the west facade, which dates from 1950, depicts Christ with words from St. John's Gospel:  "I am the vine, you are the branches."  The imagery is unusual in that Christ is flanked, not by the figures of saints or apostles, but by a fisherman and a lumberjack, representing the major industries of the Pacific Northwest in 1950.  The window is a reminder that the Church must reach out with the love of Christ to the world of which it is a part.

St. Frances Xavier CabriniIn three niches on the west facade are limestone statues of saints.  At the top is St. James "the Greater," patron of the Cathedral and of the Archdiocese of Seattle.  Below are images of St. John Vianney (patron saint of parish priests - most of the priests of the Archdiocese of Seattle were ordained in the Cathedral) and of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.  Mother Cabrini, the first American citizen to be canonized, established schools, hospitals, and orphanages in Seattle, and prayed many times at St. James Cathedral.