Religion in Texas has an interesting background. Since it was first established as a Spanish colony many centuries ago, Roman Catholicism has been the state’s leading religion.
Texas is also part of the “Bible Belt,” a region in the Southern US whose inhabitants – mostly conservative Protestants – hold absolute and unwavering allegiance to the Bible as the basis of their faith. There are other minor Christian denominations as well.
So, when you’re in Texas, you will see a mix of many historic Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. You will find different architectural styles in those churches ranging from Colonial to Gothic Revival to the recognizable “Temple” architecture in Mormon churches.
Even if you’re not the religious type, you cannot help but be in awe at the breathtaking and otherworldly splendor of these houses of worship. Many of these old churches are located next to or surrounded by tall, modern skyscrapers, bringing together an interesting stark contrast. For sure, you’ll include church-hopping as part of your history and culture trip in the Lone Star State.
San Fernando Cathedral
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe, also known as San Fernando Cathedral, is the oldest church in Texas and one of the oldest existing cathedrals in the United States. It was first built in the early- to the mid-18th century and underwent several renovations, like many other churches.
This breathtaking Catholic church offers Mass in both English and Spanish every day of the week. It indeed carries the rich history and culture of San Antonio. Once inside, take a moment to pay respects to the three Battle of Alamo heroes – Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and James Bowie. Their ashes lie in the coffin near the church’s entrance.
First Methodist Church
The First Methodist Church was built in 1910. This church stands in stark contrast to the towering modern buildings and skyscrapers surrounding it.
Saint Mary’s Catholic Church
German and Czech immigrants settled in the historic town of Fredericksburg in the mid-1800s. By the early 1900s, their descendants had built the first church in the community. The church, constructed in Gothic style, was made with quarried stone sourced nearby. It will impress you with stained-glass windows, painted walls, and artwork. Entering this stunning church, you will find its elaborate inscriptions stenciled in German.
Dallas Baptist University Pilgrim Chapel
The Dallas Baptist University Pilgrim Chapel, also known as the Patty and Bo Pilgrim Chapel, is located in the heart of the Dallas Baptist University campus. Its pristine white exterior is quite a sight, especially against the blue Texas sky. Completed in 2009, this chapel has attracted students and visitors alike. Despite its imposing appearance, the chapel exudes a serene vibe, with the interiors presenting a soothing blue-and-ivory white color palate. Once inside, you will see the Bible verses painted on the rounded arches above the sanctuary.
Saints Cyril and Methodius Church
This charming painted church is another one of the oldest churches in Texas. Czech immigrants settled in the small community of Dubina. Despite facing dire hardships brought by hunger and the cold weather, they built a church in 1877. Its steeple was topped by an iron cross fashioned by a freed slave. After a hurricane destroyed it in 1909, the community erected a new church – which is the church today. It was again topped by the same iron cross which was recovered from the debris of the previous church.
This church is known for its striking sky-blue interiors adorned with images of vines, oak leaves, and angels. It was restored during the 1980s.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral
Saint Mary’s Cathedral was originally built in 1872, but it has since been remodeled. With its Gothic Revival architectural style, this Catholic church stands in perfect contrast to the modern urban skyline. It was the first of the many churches designed by prominent Victorian-era architect and devout Catholic Nicholas Clayton. His nature-inspired designs are evident in the church’s tree-like columns and sky-blue dome.
Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica
This striking church was originally built in 1903, but several restorations have taken place since. The church will dazzle you with its splendid stained glass and Romanesque architecture. When you’re in town, you should have a look inside or just admire the church’s beauty from its exteriors. It is truly one of the most glorious places of worship in Texas.
Annunciation Catholic Church
This imposingly beautiful church is located near Houston’s Minute Maid Park. It is also the oldest existing church in the city, having been originally built in 1869. While the church’s original architect is unknown, Nicholas Clayton altered the building in 1884 by adding a bell tower. The church demonstrates classic Romanesque architectural features in its curved arches, strong pillars, and more straightforward décor. The majestic and imposing bell tower best reflects the church’s architectural style and is its signifying feature.
Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin Catholic Church
When you’re in the town of High Hill, be sure to check out this historic church. It was built in 1906 by a prominent local church architect Leo M. J. Dielmann, who also designed the church that preceded the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church. This church is also known as the “Queen of the Painted Churches” because of its stunning interiors.
The church’s painted walls were created by Ferdinand Stockert and Hermann Kern in 1912. The two artists painted designs on canvas and affixed them to church walls, which gave the decorations a wallpaper-like look. Well adored and loved by the small community in which the church resides, it has undergone several conservation and restoration projects to ensure its preservation and longevity.
Saint Joseph Catholic Church
Where can you find a church that’s almost surrounded by a shopping mall? It’s here in San Antonio, Texas.
Saint Joseph Catholic Church was built in 1868; its construction finished in 1876. In 1944, real estate developers wanted to purchase the church grounds so that they could erect a shopping mall on it. But the church leaders and parishioners refused, so the developers built a shopping mall around three sides of the church instead.
Saint Joseph Catholic church is designed in Gothic Revival architectural style. The interiors and the stained-glass windows are simply stunning.