Matthew Shepard was entrusted to the Cathedral 20 years after his death. Here, in the safety of the Cathedral, he has a home and pilgrims have a place to honor a young man who changed the nation.

His death in 1998 at the tender age of 21, from a vicious anti-gay hate crime, shocked the conscience of a nation and electrified the movement for the LGBTQ rights. Through the work of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, his parents Dennis and Judy Shepard helped pass the country’s first federal hate crimes legislation, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in 2009.

Every year on Matt’s birthday (Dec. 1), his parents gather with the Cathedral community to celebrate his life and legacy, and to advocate for a world that is more just, tolerant and compassionate.

Portrait art of Matthew Shephard

Dedicating the Matthew Shepard Devotional Portrait

On Dec. 1, 2022, on what would have been Matthew Shepard's 46th birthday, the Cathedral dedicated a devotional portrait of Matthew Shepard by acclaimed iconographer Kelly Latimore.

The rainbow that surrounds Matt features handwritten notes sent to his parents. His right hand hovers over his heart in a sign of thanks; his left hand is extended outward in a gesture of welcome.
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Dedicating the Matthew Shepard Plaque

The bronze plaque that honors Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel in 2019 to mark his final resting place. It mirrors a plaque dedicated to human rights advocate Helen Keller, who lies nearby.

Like Helen Keller, Matthew dreamed and worked for a world full of love and compassion. This memorial plaque was made possible through a global crowd–funding initiative that raised all funds necessary within three weeks.

Special guests include Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, singer/songwriter Mary Lambert and Dennis & Judy Shepard.
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Entrusting Matthew Shepard to God's Care

Twenty years after his death, Matt's parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, interred his ashes in the crypt of the Cathedral, where he rests in safety alongside Helen Keller and other saints of God.

The committal service on Oct. 26, 2018 was an emotional celebration of Matt's life and a call to continue his legacy of love and acceptance. The Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, presided over the service that attracted hundreds to the Cathedral.
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