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Cataldo Mission

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31732 S Mission Rd, Cataldo, ID 83810, United States
Kootenai , Idaho

Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park is a state park and National Historic Landmark in North Idaho, USA. It is also known as the Mission of the Sacred Heart or Cataldo Mission. It contains the church itself, the parish house, and the surrounding property. Mission of the Sacred Heart is also the oldest standing building in Idaho.

History

In the early 19th century, the Coeur d'Alene Indians had heard of these powerful "medicine men" in black robes with a book and wanted some of these men for their own tribe. They sent men east to St. Louis, and in 1842 Father Pierre-Jean De Smet responded to the request and came to the area. Fr. Nicholas Point and Br. Charles Duet came and helped to pick a mission location. The first was along the St. Joe River, but was subject to flooding. In 1846 they moved it to the current location.

In 1850 the church was taken over by Antonio Ravalli, who began designing the new mission building. He made sure that the building was constructed by the Indians themselves, so that they could feel part of the church. It was built using the wattle and daub method, and was finished some three years later, without using a single nail.

This mission location is named after Giuseppe Cataldo, a sicilian priest born in the village of Terrasini, who spent there most of his life.

In time the mission became an important stop for traders, settlers, and miners taking on the role as a hospitality and supply station. It was also a working port for boats heading up the Coeur d'Alene River.

Mission area
Church

Though they had few materials to decorate the church, they used ingenious techniques to beautify it. The walls were decorated with fabric bought from the Hudson's Bay Company and hand-painted newspaper that Fr. Ravalli had received in the mail. Tin cans were used to create an idea of chandeliers. Both wooden statues were carved by hand with nothing but a knife. The blue coloring of the interior wood is not paint but a stain created by pressing local huckleberries into the wood.

Parish house

After being burnt down, it was rebuilt in 1887. It is a two-story building, the upstairs used for sleeping quarters, and the downstairs for daily activities. It contains a smaller chapel, mostly used for daily mass.

Surrounding area

The surrounding property has two cemeteries, a nature trail, and a visitor's center.

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