Discover the Oldest Church in All of Texas
When we think of Texas, we sometimes forget all the history that’s taken place. The state was originally part of Mexico and has roots going back to 1519, when Alonso Alvarez de Pineda drew a map of the Gulf Coast. In 1692, the city of San Antonio was settled in and it became a city in the 1700s. This history has led people to wonder about the religious history of Texas. One of the key parts of Mexican heritage is religion, as is the European heritage who came to the United States. So what exactly is the oldest church in Texas?
What Is the Oldest Church in Texas?
The city of San Antonio isn’t just one of the oldest in Texas, it’s also home to the oldest church. The San Fernando Cathedral was first opened up in 1731. 16 families who arrived from the Canary Islands came together and created this church. San Fernando was known for being inclusive to all religions. This was needed because for a long time only the Catholic Church was recognized by government until Texas declared independence.
The idea of the church was to have a place in the center of the city where people could come to worship, or have a safe space to be. Even all these years later, that still rings true, as the San Fernando Cathedral is in the heart of the city. If you’re looking for a place to meet new people, this church is the perfect place. Each weekend, you’ll find around 5,000 people at the masses offered. The church is also open for tours.
What Events Have Happened at San Fernando Cathedral?
Almost 100 years after being built, the church had an important part in the Battle of the Alamo. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna raised a flag from the top of the church to signal the start of the battle. In 1868, the church gained a new look, going for the Gothic style. The Stations of the Cross and new windows were added in 1874 and 1920. Pope John Paul II made his way to the cathedral in 1987, the only time in history a pope would visit a church in Texas.
In 2003, the church took on a $15 million renovation. This renovation was broken down into three phases. After all was said and done, the church was restored and the baptism center was upgraded. The Cathedral Center was revamped, and there would be a community center added as well. The most popular event of the year is the Good Friday Passion Play. People from all around the world visit to watch.
What Else Can You Find Around the San Fernando Cathedral?
Because it’s in downtown San Antonio, there aren’t too many animals roaming around. However, there are beautiful courtyards and areas around the San Fernando Cathedral. You can also make your way to the San Antonio River Walk, one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. On Main Plaza, you’ll also find Heritage Oak, a beautiful oak tree in front of the church. During the holiday season, the church decorates the many different trees you’ll find outside. Legacy Park is also just a short walk away from the church, allowing you to take in the beautiful sites of San Antonio after mass.
What Is the Oldest Church in the United States?
Being around since 1731 is an impressive feat, but it’s nothing compared to the San Miguel Chapel. Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this chapel has been around since 1610. This is 120 years before San Fernando Cathedral was first opened. Maybe even more impressive than its age is the fact it’s only been rebuilt twice, with the most recent being in 1710. Overall, the San Fernando Cathedral is the 29th oldest church in the United States, not including Puerto Rico.
Overall, the San Fernando Cathedral is one of the most amazing structures in the United States. Being able to withstand the Texas heat, the battles the took place while Texas was gaining independence, and many more make this a must visit the next time you’re in San Antonio. Make sure to appreciate all of the parts that were built before technology was able to help us. Old churches are architectural marvels, given how beautiful they were created without help. There’s also plenty to see and do when you visit the San Fernando Cathedral.