Not too long ago our good friend E. Brooks Moore (Meandering Passage) posted some notes on his recent trip through Kansas. In it, he mentioned stopping in Victoria, Kansas to see the Cathedral of the Plains (a very large church in a very small town). I commented that we’d been by this town and its church a number of times but had never stopped to see it. Well, a couple of days ago we had another opportunity. We didn’t miss this one.
It was a good choice. As I said, Victoria is a really small town (I think the population is about 1500?). The church is huge by comparison – its twin towers can be seen from a fair distance, including cars and trucks passing by on I-70.
The town was settled by German speaking immigrants who’d lived in eastern Russia in the late 1800’s. When told in 1875 that they were going to be subjected to taxation and conscription into the Russian army, they left. They eventually wound up in Kansas. Many of their descendants still live there.
While commonly known as the “Cathedral of the Plains”, it is technically not a cathedral (since no bishop is seated there). It received that nickname when William Jennings Bryan visited in 1912, just a few years after the church was dedicated. To its members it is simply St. Fidelis.
In any case, it’s a beautiful church. If you happen to be traveling across Kansas on I-70, be sure to stop. You won’t regret it.