Mount Saint Michael

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Image:Msm-aerialview.jpg Mount Saint Michael (coll. "The Mount") is a traditional Catholic center and serves as the home of Saint Michael's Academy and as a parish center in Spokane, Washington run by the sisters and priests of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI). It is listed as a National Historic Place by the National Park Service.

History of Mount St. Michael

The history of Mount St. Michael began with an Indian mission, St. Michael's Mission, founded by the Jesuit priest Joseph Caruana located just north of Spokane in the mid 19th century. In 1878, Caruana's successor, Joseph Cataldo, moved St. Michael's to its current location and in 1878, Cataldo expanded the mission's property with a purchase of almost 1,000 acres (4 km²) of land at the price of $2 per acre. From 1881 until 1915, St. Michael was used primarily as a farm, supplying the Jesuit college at Gonzaga with fresh produce and dairy products.

In the spring of 1915, work began on the hilltop of a separate scholasticate to accommodate the rising number of vocations to the order. The cost for the project was $400,000. The Jesuit, Father Arthuis, who had just completed St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church at Gonzaga University, was placed in charge of construction. He built a railroad 1100 feet (340 m) in length to convey building materials up the 320 foot (98 m) bluff. The four story Tudor-Gothic building was built in the shape of a “T” and contained a chapel, dining room, kitchen, gymnasium, physics and chemistry labs, lecture halls and residences for the scholastics.

On the park-like grounds is a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Built in fulfillment of a vow in the 1920s. Mass is offered at the outdoor chapel and faithful often gather here to pray the Rosary.

In 1929 work began on the three-story west wing. The new wing housed another 100 students and contained the new library. In 1930 a seismometer from Gonzaga University was moved to a basement laboratory at Mount St. Michael, where seismologists kept careful records of seismic activity. Mount St. Michael soon gained international acknowledgement as an important seismographic center.

At this time the 700 acre (2.8 km²) farm provided all the food needed for the seminary. Jesuit brothers, farmers, tailors, bakers, cobblers, bee keepers and horticulturists, saw to the material needs of the community and the formation of the candidates placed in their charge. It was said to be one of the finest Jesuit houses of study in the world. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, drastic drops in the number of vocations caused Mount St. Michael to close its doors as a scholasticate in 1968. For the next several years, Mount St. Michael served as a residence for priests and an ecumenical prayer and retreat center.


In 1977, the Jesuits sold Mount St. Michael to the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. Since that time, Mount St. Michael returned to use as an educational and religious center. It serves a variety of needs for Spokane area traditional Catholics. The east wing serves as a cloistered residence for the religious Sisters. The west wing houses church offices, a religious gift shop with hundreds of traditional Catholic books and religious goods, a voluminous library stacks and a private academy for students from kindergarten through high school. A chapel located on the second floor serves as the parochial and school church.

The Mount’s east wing now serves as a cloister residence for the Marian Sisters. The beautifully-adorned main chapel on the second floor is used for the solemn celebration of the sacred liturgy in the traditional Latin rite for a growing parish. The west wing houses a private academy for students from kindergarten through high school, as well as an extensive library that spills over into three auxiliary rooms, while the east wing serves as a cloistered residence for the Marian Sisters.

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