The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, also known locally as Saint Mary's Cathedral, is the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco in San Francisco, California. It is the mother church of the Catholic faithful in the California counties of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo and is the metropolitan cathedral for the Ecclesiastical province of San Francisco. The rector of the cathedral is Msgr. John Talesfore.
The cathedral is located in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption replaced two previous churches of the same name successively. The first original cathedral was built in 1854 and still stands today and is now known as Old Saint Mary's Church. In 1891, a second cathedral was constructed but was destroyed by arson in 1962. The present-day cathedral was commissioned just as Vatican II was convening in Rome. Prescriptions of the historic church council allowed the Archdiocese of San Francisco to plan boldly in the building of its new cathedral. That resulted in the modern design of the present structure. The cornerstone was laid on December 13, 1967, and the cathedral was completed three years later. On May 5, 1971, the cathedral was blessed and on October 5, 1996, was formally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the name of Saint Mary of the Assumption. The first papal mass was celebrated by Pope John Paul II in the cathedral in 1987.
It ran the private all-female Cathedral High School, in a building adjoined to the present-day cathedral itself. CHS merged with nearby all-male private Sacred Heart High School in 1987. St. Mary's Cathedral still has close ties to the resulting Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, which uses the cathedral as its principal church for masses and other special events, such as graduation.
The cathedral was designed by local architects John Michael Lee, Paul A. Ryan and Angus McSweeney, collaborating with internationally known architects Pier Luigi Nervi and Pietro Belluschi ― at the time, the Dean of the School of Architecture at MIT. Its saddle roof is composed of segments of hyperbolic paraboloids in a manner reminiscent of St. Mary's Cathedral in Tokyo, which was built earlier in the decade. Due to its resemblance to a large washing machine agitator, the cathedral has been nicknamed "Our Lady of Maytag" or "McGucken's Maytag". The building was selected in 2007 by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects for a list of San Francisco's top 25 buildings.