Saint Andrew’s Cathedral is a branch of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; belonging to the Anglican Communion (also called “Episcopal” in the United States and Scotland).
Kamehameha IV and his Queen Emma rejoiced at the birth of their son, Albert Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha, on May 20, 1858.
They were both very interested in the Anglican/Episcopal Church and in 1859 asked Queen Victoria to send them clergy of the Church of England. In part, they wished their young son to be baptized and “be instructed in the fundamentals of Church of England worship.”
In 1861, the King and Queen gave land, part of their royal garden, on which a Cathedral was to be built. While planning and fund-raising began a small Pro-Cathedral was constructed of wood on the corner of Nuʻuanu and Kuakini Streets in 1862.
This would remain in use for more than twenty years, the time it would take for the first phase of the cathedral to reach completion.
Thomas Staley was consecrated in England to become the first Bishop of Hawaiʻi. In anticipation of the arrival of the Bishop, the King translated much of the Book of Common Prayer into the Hawaiian language.
After the Bishop’s arrival in Honolulu, the King and Queen were baptized and confirmed in the Anglican Church. (This was the second baptism for each; in their childhood they had been baptized in the Calvinist faith.)
The first services of the church were held on October 12, 1862 (150-years ago today,) amidst a time of mourning for the young Prince of Hawaiʻi, the only son of the King and Queen who died shortly before the arrival of the Bishop.
The subsequent untimely death of King Kamehameha IV on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, 1863, led his brother, Lot (King Kamehameha V) to dedicate the cathedral to St. Andrew as a fitting memorial to a King.
Queen Emma proceeded alone to lead the project. She traveled to England to raise money, to commission architects, and to purchase stone from Caen in Normandy, which was shipped to Hawaiʻi as ballast in sailing ships.
The corner stone was laid March 5, 1867 by King Kamehameha V and work was begun on the foundation and choir sections of the building (he viewed building the cathedral as a tribute to his brother.)
The first twenty years were a struggle with and for money, materials and men, but with the aid of supporters, the nave (the main body and central approach to the high altar) of the cathedral was completed in time for Christmas, 1886.
Queen Emma did not live to worship in the Cathedral. She had died the previous year on St. Mark’s Day, 1885.
The first two bays of the building were completed in 1902 and the building was consecrated at that time. Also in that year, the Church of England deemed it appropriate to transfer its responsibility for the church in Hawaiʻi to the Episcopal Church of the United States.
In 1908, a plan for a tower in the same gothic style as the church was conceived and it was dedicated in 1912. It was not until 1958 that the final two bays of the nave were completed, along with the entrance area, vestibule and the Great West Window.
The new Anglican Church in Hawaii was called the Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church, indicative of the evolution of the Church of England of the time. The name would change in 1870 to the Anglican Church in Hawaii.
Kamehameha IV and his Queen Emma dedicated their marriage to serving the health, educational and spiritual needs of their people.
To these ends they founded The Queen’s Hospital (now The Queen’s Medical Center), several schools, including The St Andrew’s Priory School and St. Albans (now ʻIolani School), and were instrumental in bringing the Anglican church to the islands.
While St. Andrew’s Cathedral was begun in what has been called the Golden Age of the Hawaiian monarchy, it continued through the upheaval of the overthrow of the monarchy, garnering in those troubled times the allegiance of both Queen Liliʻuokalani, Hawaiʻi’s last monarch, and Sanford Dole, President of the Republic of Hawaiʻi.
Queen Liliʻuokalani took on Queen Emma’s role as a visible and energetic leader in the work of the church, moving into the twentieth century.
In the Hawaiian tradition, two red and yellow kahili stand at the front of the cathedral, serving as physical reminders of the royal patrons of the cathedral.
Historically, there were two congregations. One congregation was at first composed of Hawaiian-speaking worshipers, and the other was composed of English-speaking worshipers. The Hawaiian language is still used in some of the services.
In 2002, the Royal Patrons Chapel was created, the Wahi Kapu, or Sacred Space, dedicated to the memory of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma.