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Niagara Falls Sights

St. Mary’s of the Cataract Church Oldest in Niagara Region

St. Mary's of the Cataract, Niagara Falls

St. Mary's of the Cataract Church-Niagara FallsCatholics visiting Niagara Falls USA will want to visit St. Mary’s of the Cataract Church at 259 4th Street in downtown Niagara Falls. St. Mary of the Cataract is the oldest church in the Diocese of Buffalo which covers all of Western New York.

Christianity and the Catholic Church in particular was very involved in the discovery and colonization of Niagara Falls. Native Americans of the region were certainly aware of the mighty Falls, but the first white explorer to see Niagara Falls was Father Louis Hennepin in 1678.

Following Father Hennepin’s “discovery” many of the earliest settlers in the area were French and Irish Catholics. Then in 1836 Father John Neumann, now Saint John Neumann, built the mission station in the location which is now St. Mary’s of the Cataract.

St. Mary's of the Cataract Church-Niagara FallsThe current church was then built in 1847, but the existing Sacristy was constructed in 1813 and is the oldest structure still currently in use in the City of Niagara Falls.

The tallest steeple of our church was built at the same height of Niagara Falls themselves and the tower’s oldest bell was installed in 2003, with the tower clocks added the previous year. In 2004, through the generosity of its parishioners, the church was renovated to a style compatible with its early history.

Saint Mary’s has been the preeminent Catholic presence in downtown Niagara Falls for more than a century and a half.  In the year 2009, the Shrine of the Holy Relics was added to the church.  With its collection of first class relics of the Saints, Saint Mary’s has become a special place of prayer and pilgrimage.  Well into its second century as a parish, Saint Mary’s continues to be a vibrant Catholic community, with a special mission to the millions of visitors to the natural wonder of Niagara Falls, “the thundering cataract.”


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