Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Our History

The Museum of Virginia Catholic History was established by the Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, eleventh Bishop of Richmond.

In the late 1990’s, Bishop Sullivan recognized a growing need for a permanent environment in which to
collect and display the rare artifacts and memorabilia that belonged to the Diocese. With the intention of creating a space in which to illustrate the rich history of Catholicism in Virginia, plans to establish a Diocesan museum began to take shape.

Through the efforts and determination of Anne C. Edwards, then Chancellor of the Diocese, Bishop Sullivan’s vision came to fruition in May of 2003 as the Museum of Virginia Catholic History opened its doors to the public for the first time.

In 2008, following the relocation of the Diocesan administrative offices and archives to the new Pastoral Center, the decision was made to move the museum collections into the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the mother church of the Diocese. The Cathedral is a well-visited national historic landmark, making it an ideal location for the display of museum artifacts.

Presently, there are two museum exhibits installed in the Cathedral: Built on a Cornerstone of Faith: The Cathedral of  the Sacred Heart, located in the Baptistery Gallery, and a temporary exhibit illustrating the history of the Diocese of Richmond which is located in the Crypt and undercroft area.  Additionally, there are four informational displays in the Cathedral’s vestibule and aisle cases that illustrate the Cathedral’s early history, highlighting its 1906 Consecration Day.

Our Mission

The mission of the Museum of Virginia Catholic History is to collect, preserve and interpret artifacts of spiritual and cultural significance belonging to Virginia’s Catholic community.

Through its collection, the Museum traces the history of the Diocese of Richmond from its establishment in 1820 up to the present day. The items on exhibit help to tell the story of the Diocese, illustrating the development of Catholic faith and identity in Virginia.

By preserving these unique artifacts, future generations of Catholics are assured a visible memory and greater understanding of the people, places and events that have helped to shape Catholicism in the state.

The Museum of Virginia Catholic History is committed to educating visitors about the challenges Virginia’s early Catholic men and women encountered and overcame, enabling Catholicism to flourish.