San Fernando Cathedral, also known as Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe, is a Roman Catholic Church cathedral situated in downtown San Antonio, Texas. The cathedral is the mother church of the archdiocese of San Antonio. The cathedral is listed on the National Historic Places and known for being one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. In this article, we are going to know more about the history of the San Antonio Cathedral.
History of San Antonio Cathedral
The church of San Fernando was built between 1738 and 1750. It was built by the settlers from the Canary Islands. That is why the interior has an image of the Virgin of Candelaria. In 1836, the cathedral played an essential role in the Battle of the Alamo. The Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna raised a flag of no quarter from the San Fernando Cathedral’s tower, which marked the beginning of the siege. The walls of the original church are now the sanctuary of the cathedral, which proves its claim to being the oldest cathedral in Texas.
The church was named for Ferdinand III of Castile, a king who ruled Castile during the 13th century. The baptismal font, a piece of church furniture for baptism, is believed to be a gift from the King of Spain from 1759, Charles III. The baptismal font is said to be the oldest liturgical furnishing in the cathedral.
In 1868, the cathedral was renovated and enlarged in the Gothic style under the architect’s direction, Francois P. Giraud. In 1874, they added the carved stone Stations of the cross, and the beautiful stain glass windows we see today was added in 1920.
During the only papal visit to Texas in September 1987, Pope John Paul II chose to visit the San Fernando Cathedral.
In 2003, the cathedral went under a $15 million renovation project, which involves the restoration and stabilization of the cathedral structure and foundation. They relocated the altar to a moveable platform, and the baptismal font was moved into the central aisle. They replaced the rectory with a Cathedral Center that houses counseling rooms, gift shop, museum, television control room, a small cafeteria, vesting sacristy, and a reception room. Aside from that, a community center was also build to hold social and community services. They also added church offices, a hall, and residence for the priest.
The renovation done in 2003 was supervised by Father Richard S. Vosko, who also oversaw the restoration of several cathedrals and churches in the United States.
In 2011, the San Fernando Cathedral had minor renovations. They unveiled a new altar, reversed some prior alterations, installed a new railing behind the platform, and relocated the baptismal font to the front next to the podium, and placed three relics in the altar. The 2011 renovation costs about $150,000, and the funds came from parishioners and outside donors.
San Fernando Cathedral Today
Today, the San Fernando cathedral remains the center of Catholic religious life in San Antonio, Texas. The cathedral is involved in annual events like the Fiesta Week. Over 5,000 people go and participate during weekend Masses each week of the year. And there are about 100 weddings, 900 baptisms, 100 funerals, and several other special events and services being done every year in the San Fernando cathedral. The most notable event is the staging of the Good Friday Passion Play because it attracts thousands of visitors every year. In February 2006, the San Fernando cathedral held a yearlong celebration of San Antonio’s 275th Anniversary recognition.