The Cathedral is a late Gothic Revival style modeled after the Parisian Cathedral of La Sainte Chapelle. In selecting a type of English Gothic, the architects, Henry Brinkman and J. Stanley Hagan, made variations for local purposes, while preserving the true Gothic harmony in detail from nature, sculpture, paintings, and stained-glass. Gothic architecture constantly strove towards economy of material, loftiness and lightness of interior design.
The Cathedral's massive vestibule speaks a universal welcome in its gracefully arched and ample doorways, and the front window lets in the morning sun. The cleresory windows are framed in stone with stone tracery. The spire rises at the point of the cross-shaped design. On the spire are grotesques of various kinds.
The huge rose window at the back of the cathedral came from Italy in its completed form. The window shows the Madonna and child surrounded by angels and saints. Due to lack of money, the remaining windows are made of plain colored glass. The lower portion is a yellow close to the color of the Bedford stone from Indiana. The smaller upper portion is a deep blue to balance the yellow light. The windows above the altar were filled with stone because funding for windows completely gave out.
The main altar and baldachino as well as the four smaller altars, are made of pure white Italian marble in pure Gothic design. The marble was brought over from the marble quarries of Italy in the early 1930's. Artisans from Italy were also brought to work the marble and carve the reliefs on the main altar and on the baldachino.
The figures placed on top of the piers represent the four Evangelists. The 'Agnus Dei' and the 'Alpha and Omega' in front of the baldachino are cut in low relief and emphasized with a leaf background. The whole project was donated by Dr. Childs of Grand Island at a cost of $15,000.
The Cathedral covers a city block was built at a cost of about $300,000. All the people of the diocese shared in the cost of building the cathedral, which is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the Midwest. In 1928, the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was completed and Cardinal Patrick Hayes of New York City presided at the dedication ceremonies July 5, 1928.
Just as the Church is not finished, but continues its work until Christ comes again, so a church building is never finished. As the parish and diocese grow, pictures, windows, decoration and space may be added. St. Mary's Cathedral will continue to be a beautiful example of man's coming to God for years to come.