The Reverend Joseph Cataldo opened the St. Michael’s Mission in the 1860s. The simple log structure of that time was intended to be a school for both white and Indian pupils.
Born Giuseppe Cataldo in Sicily in 1837, this Jesuit missionary is sometimes called "the last of the black robes." He labored across what would become six states in the Northwest, preaching, teaching, and founding missions and schools. In 1858 he attempted to talk the Couer d'Alenes out of participating in the fights with the Army that summer. He became so close with some bands of the Nez Perces that in the 1877 war some whites accused him of siding with the Indians. And in 1887 he purchased the land along the Spokane River that would become Gonzaga University.
The chapel that once stood here was updated several times over the decades, Eventually, the Spokanes were forced to a reservation, and the purpose of the building faded. A framed chapel, built in 1882 and renovated in 1920, was eventually relocated to the campus of Fort George Wright, where it stands today.
Father Cataldo’s legacy lives through various monuments, including this one. The monument was built in May of 1936. No specific individual was credited with designing the monument, and only the sponsors of the memorial are recorded in both the monument’s engravings and any newspaper reports.
The monument is a rectangular granite slab atop a concrete foundation. The exterior of the slab is roughly textured, but facing northwest, the front is a smooth, engraved side. As of recently, the monument contains growth and staining from weathering. The engravings of the monument describe the life and legacy of Reverend Joseph Cataldo and credits the people and organizations that sponsored the development of the monument.
This monument once stood out in the open of Palmer Rd, where the St. Michael’s Mission resided for a time. It once stood in front of the St. Michael’s Mission chapel, until the chapel was removed. The monument was left behind and now sits aside a private residential area.