7 Most Beautiful and Awe-Inspiring Churches and Cathedrals in Maine

© Carol Boldt / CC BY-SA 4.0

Written by Alanna Davis

Published: September 11, 2023

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Maine has a deep and rich history with Catholicism that spans back hundreds of years. In fact, Maine is the only state in New England that can say that their Catholic foundation was initially laid during the colonial period. Missionaries landed there in the early 1600s and began to settle down, which means they actually arrived prior to the pilgrims. This makes Maine home to some of the most breathtaking pieces of Catholic history in all of the United States. Let’s dive into the seven most impressive churches and cathedrals that Maine has to offer.

1. Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Lewiston

This beautiful piece of architecture went through many revisions before its eventual completion.

©Carol Boldt / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

In the late 1800s, many French-speaking Roman Catholics began migrating south from Canada to pursue work opportunities in Maine. As such, there was a growing need for a place of worship to accommodate the influx of new Catholic residents. Initially, the basement of Saint Joseph’s Church was used as a place to hold French masses. This was until the congregation became so large that the space could no longer accommodate them.

Over the years, the amount of people attending the church grew and grew, eventually reaching 10,000 members. The ever-growing congregation made it clear to the church officials that the audience would only continue to increase in size. To plan for this, they made preparations to create a larger, more permanent structure. The massive Gothic-style church that we see today was completed in 1936. Although times have changed, and there are many more options for French-speaking Catholics, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul routinely offers mass in both English and French.

2. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland

Portland Immaculate Conception

The Portland Immaculate Conception Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Portland.

©Erwin Meier / CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

Just like a phoenix, this cathedral rose out of the ashes of a fire. Construction on this cathedral began in early 1866, but only a few short months later, a fire would completely level it to the ground. This could have been the end of the road, but instead, the construction team rallied. The architect, Patrick C. Keely, and his team of workers regrouped and began the rebuild just two short years later. 

No one could have imagined just how beautiful the rebuild would be. This cathedral boasts the title of the tallest structure in Portland, with its spire reaching an astounding height of 204 feet. The interior of the church is quite the sight as well, with vaulted ceilings and intricate stained glass adorning each wall. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was declared a National Catholic Historical Site in 2003.

3. All Souls Congregational Church, Bangor 

All Souls Congregational Church, Bangor ME

There are a variety of mission trips offered by All Souls Church, including both domestic and overseas options.

©John Phelan / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

In 1911, Bangor endured a devastating fire that destroyed countless local properties. Two of these such losses were the First Congregational Church and the Central Congregational Church, which combined in the wake of this horrible tragedy. After both churches merged their parishioners, it became clear a new name was needed to represent the blended congregations. The name “All Souls Church” is credited to one of the original 576 members.

All Souls Church is nestled in Bangor right off the beautiful Kenduskeag Stream. In addition to Sunday mass, they offer Sunday School, teen programs, mission opportunities, gardening classes, and much more. The volume and variety of services provided by the church are an integral part of the local community. Cram and Ferguson Architects designed All Souls Congregational Church in the iconic Gothic revival style. It boasts an impressive variety of stained glass, with the largest being the rose window at its front.

4. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Calais

The online masses offered by this church are convenient for those who are unable to attend in person.

©Ken Gallager / CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

This church is just as historic as it is contemporary. The architect responsible for the jaw-dropping St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, James Renwick, had a hand in planning the construction of this church. While more modest than its successor, it’s evident that both buildings exhibit the same level of attention to detail and beauty. Constructed initially in 1853, it has been through a series of restorations throughout the years to maintain its original charm. This piece of history is a must-see if you’re traveling to the area. 

In the present day, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church is a pillar in the community, providing a wealth of activities and programs. They are active on the internet as well, updating their social media regularly and offering online mass to those who wish to attend remotely.

5. First Parish Church, Portland

This church was designed in the federal style, which was popular from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s.

First Parish Church is not only one of the oldest churches in Maine but also the oldest building in the city it resides in. Located in Portland, this church is a historic landmark for tourists as well as locals. Its humble, stony exterior conceals a grand and intricate interior, making it a popular choice for wedding ceremonies. 

This Unitarian Universalist congregation accepts people from all walks of life. Some of the members of their community are Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans, Jews, Christians, agnostics, and atheists. First Parish Church encourages any person who is seeking spiritual guidance to attend. Also well known for being an LGBTQ+ welcoming congregation, this church truly embodies its tagline, “a church for everybody.” This church is a great choice for those who are curious about religion or those just beginning their spiritual journey. 

6. Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church, Newcastle

Saint Patrick's Church (Newcastle, Maine)

Out of the 400 church bells cast by Paul Revere, one of the few still in operation resides at St. Patrick’s Church.

©Nheyob / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Located in Newcastle, this building holds the title of being the oldest-standing Roman Catholic Church in all of New England. The construction of this church can be credited to two Irish immigrants named Matthew Cottrill and James Kavanagh. Shortly after the two met, they began planning the construction of Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church. The consecration took place in 1808, meaning that this church celebrated its 215th anniversary in 2023. 

Due to the building’s old age, it underwent a lengthy and expensive restoration, which was completed in 2022. The aim was to honor the original building as closely as possible while still taking care to update the roofing and masonry. Their efforts were successful, and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church will likely endure for decades. This simple brick church takes inspiration from both the Colonial and Federal styles. 

7. St. David Catholic Church, Madawaska

St David Catholic Church

St. David Catholic Church was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

©Doug Kerr / CC BY-SA 2.0 – Original / License

St. David Catholic Church resides in the northernmost region of Maine, along the Canadian border. The land this church was built on was once part of a heated ownership dispute. Both New Brunswick and Maine claimed this territory to be theirs, and this feud wasn’t resolved until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty divided the land along the Saint John River. In its aftermath, the congregation split into two. Members of the community who resided in Maine completed the final version of St. David Catholic Church in 1912. 

St. David Catholic Church is also well known for pioneering church design. The exterior of the building is a creative combination of both the Renaissance and the Baroque styles, giving it a unique look. It was so unique, in fact, that the architectural firm responsible for the construction of this church had never created anything like it before. Prior to this point, the Gothic style of church design was prevalent, making St. David Catholic Church one of the first of its kind. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning a vacation to Maine, don’t miss visiting these breathtaking churches and cathedrals. Whether you’re searching for a place of worship, a history enthusiast, or simply curious about architecture, Maine offers a diverse selection of churches and cathedrals to explore. Between the deep and complex history and the awe-inspiring beauty, there is much to gain for both tourists and locals alike.

Religions Practiced in MainePercentage of Population

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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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