Things have gotten a bit dim in and around the century-old Cathedral of St. Paul these days. A fundraising effort by the Cathedral Heritage Foundation (CHF) aims to change that.

Shedding new light on the historic and much-visited church on St. Paul’s highest point is the goal of the foundation’s sixth annual Cathedral Festival of Lights fundraiser Sept. 23.

Money raised will go to switch over all of the cathedral’s lighting to LED lights to improve illumination and conserve energy. The first phase of the project’s three phases will focus on brightening the 1.5-acre interior, which includes many dimly lit side chapels and dozens of burned out ceiling and cornice lights. Approximately 800 LED lights are needed to upgrade and replace the existing interior lighting, officials said.

“With grant funding from the CHF, we were able to get started on this process over the winter, and already the energy savings have been substantial and far outweigh the investment in LED lights,” said the Rev. John Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul. “Plus, the new LED lights have a ‘life span’ measured in years. Once the transition has been completed, this could save us as much as 20 hours in maintenance per month and reduce our energy bills by 30 percent or more.”

The goal is to complete the first phase by Christmas, Ubel said. In addition to the interior lighting, there will be enhanced, energy-efficient lighting for the east “Resurrection” rose window that will be visible from both the inside and outside of the church.

The second phase will add energy-efficient exterior lights to the courtyard surrounding the sacristy at the back of the cathedral. The third phase, to be completed over the next year, will include a new exterior lighting design that will enhance the facade and bell towers in particular.

“The energy conservation resulting from our initial grants to the parish made it obvious that our project for this year’s Festival of Lights needed to focus on illuminating this historic century-old church with the best that modern technology has to offer,” said Mary Schaffner, chairwoman of the CHF board.

More information about the lighting and the Cathedral Festival of Lights gala is online at The fund­raiser will be held 5 to 9 p.m. at the InterContinental St. Paul Riverfront and partly tax-deductible tickets are $150 per person.