By Katherine Kasckow
February 8, 2017
Within the city of Rock Springs stands the grandiose Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church that was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 22nd, 2015. With its Romanesque architecture and a 125-feet bell tower, the Church looms over the southwestern Wyoming town. Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church was constructed when the original Catholic church, Our Lady of Sorrows, could not host the expanding Slavic population of Rock Springs. Between 1900 and 1910, Rock Springs was a booming mining town and the population of people from Eastern Europe across the country saw a large increase.
Though ideas were tossed around within the Diocese in 1907 to create a church for the rising Slavic population, a plan to actually build the church was not formulated until April 1910. Construction began with the digging of the church's basement in 1912. Due to limited funds, the basement became the place of worship for the next fourteen years until money was raised for the continuation of construction. In 1920, the brick rectory was completed. The church was finally completed by the architect Daniel D. Spani and builder F.H. Cowell under the supervision of Austrian Reverend Anton Schiffrer on December, 13, 1925.
The church’s name is relevant to the ever-expanding mining city of Rock Springs. The church is named after two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, who lived in Thessalonica in present-day Greece. Both brothers were involved within the public sector of the city, and were exposed to the Slavic population in Rock Springs, which led them to learn the Slavic language. Their language skills came into use when the Byzantine Emperor required Slavic-speaking missionaries to travel to Moravia, an area of land in the eastern Czech Republic. The two brothers were prime choices for this task because of their familiarity with the Slavic language.
During their mission, Cyril and Methodius translated the liturgy vernacular into the Slavic dialect, which caused some anger within the political theater of the time. Many believed that the liturgy and mass were only to be spoken in Latin or Greek, making the brother’s Slavonic translation a crime in some official’s eyes. The two brothers did not back down, but rather continued to push for the acceptance and allowance of mass and the liturgy to be said in vernacular, Slavic languages. After the brothers’ deaths, their legacy of translating the liturgy into Slavonic remained and spread throughout the Slavic nations, placing them as the patron saints of the Slavic people.
The architecture of the church combines both Romanesque and Gothic Revival influences. Romanesque features include the square tower and predominantly semicircular arches (as opposed to pointed arches in Gothic architecture). The church’s Gothic Revival features include the symmetrical basilica design, prominent spire, steeply pitched roof, and decorative stepped buttresses along the exterior.
“Rock Springs, Wyoming” WyoHistory.org
“Sts. Cryil and Methodius” www.Catholic.org