THE STORY OF THE OLD ST. MARY’S CATHEDRAL in Peoria, IL, began in 1851. In the diary of Bishop James O. VandeVelde of Chicago, occurs the entry stating, “Rev. Aplhonse Montouri, CM left for Peoria where it is proposed to have an addition made to an old brick church. The Bishop insists upon having a new spacious church built, and has offered $200 to Father Montouri to try to carry the plan into execution.” On June 16, 1851, the cornerstone of the new St. Mary’s church was laid, located on the front of the corner of Eaton (now Bryan) and Jefferson Street. A year later, on July 4, 1852, the first services were held in the new church, with about 800 people attending. On April 17, 1853, the church was blessed by the Bishop James O. VandeVelde. St. Mary’s church was said to be one of the finest churches between Chicago and St. Louis, and presented a beautiful appearance in a new and undeveloped city. With the arrival of the first Bishop of Peoria, John L. Spalding, in 1877, St. Mary’s church became St. Mary’s Cathedral which served its purpose until August 26, 1898, when it was torn down. It was replaced with the new Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception built in 1889.