Cataldo's Mission: Pilgrims' Destination

The oldest building in Idaho | Hugh Millward/Flickr

Road Journals Blog—The Old Mission at Cataldo is Idaho’s oldest building, finished in 1853. The American frontier was but a brawling babe.

But age hasn’t diminished the Mission’s vitality.

After all these years, Cataldo is still a destination for pilgrimages. Each year, freshmen at Gonzaga University, the Jesuit school in Spokane, Wash., walk to the Old Mission. The connection: Father Joseph Cataldo founded both the mission and the university, as well as Gonzaga Prep, a Spokane high school whose students also make the annual trek.

The Coeur d’Alene tribe, which built the mission and centered their lives around it until the government realigned their reservation, return to the mission each Aug. 15 for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

The mission's interior | Rachael Alter/Flickr

“Devotion to Mary among the Coeur d’Alenes is similar to that of Catholics in Mexico,” said Joe Peak, who has helped support the mission since moving to the area in 1978, and whose son, following a high school job as a docent on the property, became a Catholic priest.

Tribal members celebrate a special mass at the mission that includes drumming. Afterward, there’s dancing and a catered lunch. The event is open to the public.

Aug. 15, 2010, was the first Feast of the Assumption that Peak’s son—now known as Father Jimmy—missed since he was a boy. At the time of this writing, Father Jimmy is a chaplain with the army’s 101st Airborne in Afghanistan.

Beth Judy wrote about Cataldo's Mission for the July/August 2011 issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in June 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.