The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, popularly known as Washington National Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. Of neogothic design, it is the sixth-largest cathedral in the World, the second-largest in the United States, and the fourth-tallest structure in Washington, D.C. The cathedral is the seat of both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, Mariann Edgar Budde. In 2009, nearly 400,000 visitors toured the structure. Average attendance at Sunday services in 2009 was 1,667, the highest of all domestic parishes in the Episcopal Church that year.
The Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, under the first seven Bishops of Washington, erected the cathedral under a charter passed by the United States Congress on January 6, 1893. Construction began on September 29, 1907, when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000, and ended 83 years later when the last finial was placed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Decorative work, such as carvings and statuary, is ongoing as of 2011. The foundation operates and funds the cathedral. In 2011, the cathedral was the recipient of $700,000 in federal funds as part of the Save America's Treasures program.
The cathedral stands at Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues in the northwest quadrant of Washington. It is an associate member of the Washington Theological Consortium. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, it was ranked third on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
The worship department is, like the cathedral itself, rooted in the doctrine and practice of the Episcopal Church, and based in the Book of Common Prayer. Four services (and five in the summer) are held each weekday, including the daily Eucharist. Sunday through Thursday, the Cathedral Choirs sing Evensong. The forty-minute service is attended by roughly fifty to seventy-five people (more on Sunday). Five services of the Eucharist are also held on Sunday, including the Contemporary Folk Eucharist held in the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, and a Healing Eucharist in the late evening.
The cathedral also has been a temporary home to several congregations, including a Jewish synagogue and an Eastern Orthodox community. It has also been the site for several ecumenical and/or interfaith services. In October 2005, at the cathedral, the Rev. Nancy Wilson was consecrated and installed as Moderator (Denominational Executive) of the Metropolitan Community Church, by its founding Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Troy Perry.
The Washington National Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, founded in 1909, is one of very few cathedral choirs of men and boys in the United States with an affiliated school, in the English choir tradition. The 18–22 boys singing treble are of ages 8–14 and attend St. Albans School, the Cathedral school for boys, on singing scholarships. In 1997, the Cathedral Choir of Men and Girls was formed by Bruce Neswick, using the same men as the choir of the men and boys. The two choirs currently share service duties and occasionally collaborate. The girl choristers attend the National Cathedral School. Both choirs have recently recorded several CDs, including a Christmas album; a U.S. premiere recording of Ståle Kleiberg's Requiem for the Victims of Nazi Persecution; and a patriotic album, America the Beautiful.
The Great Organ was installed by the Ernest M. Skinner & Son Organ Company in 1938. The original instrument consisted of approximately 8,400 pipes. The instrument was enlarged by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company in 1963 and again between 1970 and 1975, during which time more than half of the original instrument was removed. The present instrument consists of 189 ranks and 10,647 pipes. It is the largest organ in the city of Washington and one of the 20 largest organs in the world.