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About Cataldo Mission

Information Provided by Idaho Parks & Recreation

The Old Mission (Mission of the Sacred Heart) is the oldest standing building in Idaho. Jesuits (Blackrobes) arrived at the invitation of the Coeur d'Alenes in the early 1840's. The first mission church was established on the St Joe River about 35 miles south of the present site. Due to flooding, it was closed in 1846, and a new mission church was begun on this site, which has always been sacred to the natives of the area.

The Old Mission (built 1848-1853) was a combined effort of the missionaries and over 300 native Catholics. Fr. Ravalli, an Italian born Jesuit, designed the building to resemble the elegant cathedrals of his homeland, using local materials. Wood was milled on the site, and wattle and daub construction used to make the walls both durable and light. The decorations of the interior illustrate both the piety of the workers and their ingenuity. Chandeliers were constructed from old tin cans, the altar was faux-painted to resemble marble.

The Old Mission (Mission of the Sacred Heart) is the oldest standing building in Idaho.
Cataldo Mission (c) B Arellano

The Old Mission was the site of the council following the conflict with Col. Steptoe, and also served
as headquarters for the Mullan Road crew.
In 1887, the mission itself was moved to DeSmet, Idaho, to the Coeur d'Alene reservation. The building still stands, as a monument to the cooperation of the Coeur d'Alene tribe and their missionaries. The mission sits on a beautiful knoll, overlooking the Coeur d'Alene River. The mission and parish house are open for tours, there are picnic grounds and walking paths with unobtrusive interpretive speeches, a Visitor's center with a film show, and two historical cemeteries.


Saint Cataldo (in Latin, Cathaldus or Cataldus).

About Father Pierre DeSmet:  Built the original Cataldo Mission on the St. Joe in 1842 just north of town. Flooding caused him to move the Cataldo Mission of the Sacred Heart to the Coeur dí Alene River. He also named the town of St. Maries (pronounced Saint Marys).

About Saint Cataldo: 

Today the popularity of Saint Cathaldus in Southern Italy is equal to, if not greater than, the popularity of St. Patrick in Ireland. Over one hundred and fifty churches are dedicated to him in that country and the Cathedral-Basilica in Taranto proudly bears his name. He is the Saint Protector of Corato (Bari), of Gangi (Palermo) and of many other places. A town in Sicily is called San Cataldo.

In 1071, during the reconstruction of the Basilica in Taranto, the tomb of Cathaldus was discovered and opened. With his body was found a gold cross bearing his name and the word Rathcau.


Annual Events

1) 2nd Sunday of July- Historic Skills Fair, where costumed participants demonstrate pioneer
crafts, and fiddlers play
2) Aug 15- The Feast of the Assumption Pilgrimage by the Coeur d'Alene Indians
3) Third weekend in August- Annual Mountain Man Rendezvous.
Hours for the park are: 9-5 Year round (8-6 June- August) 


I-90 24 miles east of Coeur d'Alene, take Exit 39


Articles of Interest

About the Nez Perce Indian
Shoshone Bannock Tribes and Fort Hall

Coeur D'Alene Indians



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