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Where in a city would a cathedral be built?

Where in a city would a cathedral be built?

I am creating a medieval style village in a video game I am developing. Trying to be as accurate as possible I have studied the basic form Gothic Cathedrals and come to a pretty good understanding. One thing I haven't been able to figure out however is where exactly in cities were they built? were they generally near the city center? I know I read chapter houses are built near by but how close?

Any info would be much appreciated thanks.

To understand where a cathedral might be placed, it is important to understand the function and history of cathedrals.

Note that the history is likely to depend on many different factors, and be different for different places, and that (as noted on the Wikipedia page):

"… cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century"

I shall confine my answer to cathedrals in England and Scotland.

In England and Scotland, archaeological investigations have shown that most cathedrals are build on the sites of earlier churches (most dating to the Anglo Saxon period, but some with earlier origins). Examples would be Canterbury, Durham, Glasgow, Rochester, and Winchester.

In general, the location of the cathedral was, therefore, determined by the location of the pre-existing church. The location of that church could also be determined by a number of factors, but was basically the gift of the Anglo Saxon king. By no means were all these churches located in towns.

Once a church was built, settlements would tend to accrue around them. A church built at the edge of a settlement might find itself near the centre as the settlement expanded around it.

In the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, presided over the Council of London in 1075 which ordered a significant restructuring of cathedrals in England:

By the decrees of Popes Damasus and Leo, and by the Councils of Sardica and Laodicea, whereby it is forbidden that bishops' sees should be in vills it was to towns, granted by royal favour and the Council's authority to the aforesaid three bishops to migrate from vills to cities - Hermann from Sherborne to Old Sarum, Stigand from Selsey to Chichester, Peter from Lichfield to Chester.

  • Gee & Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History, pp54-55

By Papal decree, cathedrals could no longer be located in vills. What this meant in 1075 was that Stigand, Bishop of the south Saxons, had to move his see from Selsey to Chichester; Hermann the Bishop of Wiltshire and Dorset had to move his see from Sherborne to Salisbury and Peter, the Bishop of Mercia, had to move his see from Lichfield to Chester.

This provided an obvious and immediate incentive for the expansion of the new cathedral churches in those cities!

  • The new Chichester Cathedral was consecrated in 1108.

  • Salisbury Cathedral was re-built on land donated by Richard Poore. The foundation stone was laid on 28 April 1220.

  • The See of the Bishop of Mercia was located in the Church of St John the Baptist in Chester from 1075 to 1082. In 1082 the see was moved to Coventry where it remained until finally being moved to Lichfield Cathedral in 1539. (The present Chester Cathedral was previously the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery established on that site in 1093.)

As noted above, Saxon kings granted land to establish the church and its precincts. This was rarely the 'best', or most-suitable land for building a large cathedral! Early churches were fairly small buildings. Some may have been relatively large in comparison to other buildings around them, but nothing like the scale of the cathedral buildings we see today!

The locations often caused significant problems for the medieval cathedral-builders (not to mention the problems the locations continue to cause for their modern counterparts, the cathedral conservators - whose job it is to try and prevent these buildings from falling down!).

About half of the cathedrals in England were ruled by monastic orders. The Prior of the monastery was also the Dean of the cathedral. The rest were run by secular canons, each headed by a secular Dean.

As you might expect, who was to be in charge of the cathedral was a significant factor in determining its location (and history). Monasteries accrued huge amounts of land in bequests throughout the medieval period, and how that land was used was determined by the monasteries themselves.

The Wikipedia article Historical development of Church of England dioceses has more information that you might find of interest in that regard.

Almost all cathedrals were extended and expanded following the Norman Conquest. In addition to making the church building itself bigger, that also often meant expanding the cathedral precinct. This, in turn, involved removing the people who had the misfortune to be in the way.

A notable feature of post-conquest urban architecture in England is that strategic locations, like The Hill, were often appropriated for The Castle. They were thus rarely available for building cathedral churches!

You'll find the subject has been covered in detail in the 2011 doctoral thesis The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 by Michael Fradley.

Finally, the cathedral was the seat of the Bishop. However, that does not mean that it was also his primary residence.

From the Norman Conquest of England, many - perhaps most - bishops maintained sizeable and lavish palaces. These Bishop's palaces were often located outside their diocese. A notable example here is the palace in Southwark, on the south bank of the river Thames opposite the City of London, which was maintained by the Bishops of Winchester from about the mid twelfth century.

  • Image source Wikimedia, Photograph by Mike Peel, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

The Hill.

The most potent agent will claim The Hill as the most defensible terrain.

The Hill will usually be sacred or secular from the previous religious / social organisation.

History & Heritage

Laying the foundations of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, c. 1860’s

The story of New York’s great cathedral mirrors the story of the city itself. Created to affirm the ascendance of religious freedom and tolerance, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built in the democratic spirit, paid for not only by the contributions of thousands of poor immigrants but also by the largesse of 103 prominent citizens who pledged $1,000 each. St. Patrick’s Cathedral proves the maxim that no generation builds a cathedral. It is rather, a kind of ongoing conversation linking generations past, present and future.

The cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was laid in 1858 and her doors swept open in 1879. It was over 160 years ago when Archbishop John Hughes announced his inspired ambition to build the “new” St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

In a ceremony at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Hughes proposed “for the glory of Almighty God, for the honor of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin, for the exaltation of Holy Mother Church, for the dignity of our ancient and glorious Catholic name, to erect a Cathedral in the City of New York that may be worthy of our increasing numbers, intelligence, and wealth as a religious community, and at all events, worthy as a public architectural monument, of the present and prospective crowns of this metropolis of the American continent.”

Ridiculed as “Hughes’ Folly,” as the proposed, near-wilderness site was considered too far outside the city, Archbishop Hughes, nonetheless, persisted in his daring vision of building the most beautiful Gothic Cathedral in the New World in what he believed would one day be “the heart of the city.” Neither the bloodshed of the Civil War nor the resultant lack of manpower or funds would derail the ultimate fulfillment of Hughes’ dream and architect, James Renwick’s bold plan.

“The Fair” to raise money for the opening of St. Patrick’s took place from October 22 to November 30, 1878. It was the largest ecclesiastical fair ever held in the U.S.

Original Land Purchase

The land on Fifth Avenue where St Patrick’s Cathedral now stands was purchased by the Jesuit congregation of the Catholic Church. The Jesuit Congregation was an order that focused on education, research and other various pursuits. Based on their order, the land purchased in 1810 was utilized in the building of a college and a chapel.

The Jesuits sold the land in 1814 to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance also know in history as the French Trappists. When Napoleon began to lose power in 1815, the Trappists felt it was safe to return to France without facing anymore religious persecution. The Trappists abandoned the property on Fifth Avenue. For years, the chapel at fifth avenue stayed closed.

Eventually, the chapel at the property at Fifth Avenue was reopened in the 1830s by New York Bishop John Dubois. The parish was soon plagued with financial problems and because of an incompetent board of trustees, the property was sold at auction in 1844.[3] To lose a church was devastating to the parish that supported it. A young priest by the name of Father Michael A. Curran fought hard in raising funds to buy back the church. Father Curran worked effortlessly in raising funds and eventually was able to buy back the chapel and property it stood on. As the parish continued to grow, there was a need for a larger church. As the continued rise in Catholic immigrants began to spread throughout New York City, the site in which the church was located was chosen to be utilized in the building of the new St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Where in a city would a cathedral be built? - History

The history of Markham's massive Cathedral of the Transfiguration

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The Cathedral of the Transfiguration stands out from its surroundings in Markham.

Standing tall in a quiet area just north of Major Mackenzie Drive and Hwy 404, its three towers and huge bells are a sight to see among the rows of identical homes which surround it.

Much like the cathedral’s architecture and design, its history is intricate and can be dated back to 1984.

Construction began in 1984

According to their website, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration stands on land which was once part of Romandale Farms Inc.

The man who owned it, Stephen B. Roman, was a leading breeder and exhibitor of Holstein cows in North America.

Pope John Paul II visiting the Cathedral of the Transfiguration while it was still under construction on Sept. 15, 1984. Photo via the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.

As a Slovakian native who immigrated to Canada, Roman donated the land to build the cathedral on so it could serve “as a beacon of religious freedom for his fellow Slavs then living under the repressive dominance of the former Soviet Union, without religious freedom.”

In 1984 construction of the cathedral began, and its cornerstone and altar stone were blessed by Pope John Paul II when he visited that same year. This also marked the first time that a Roman pontiff blessed a church in North America.

Unfortunately, Roman would not live to see his cathedral come to fruition as he died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 66. According to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, over a thousand people attended his funeral service, which was held in the unfinished cathedral.

After Roman’s death, his legacy was passed on to his daughter Helen and her Slovak Greek Catholic Church Foundation.

In 1990, the first president of a democratic Czechoslovakia— following the fall of the communist regime—visited the cathedral. It became a gathering place and a sign of hope for Slovakians in Canada and back in Europe.

La Plata cathedral, nucleus of a new city: a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 11

In 1880, Argentina was living through a particularly turbulent political period. Interior provinces – resentful of Buenos Aires’s position as both federal capital and capital of the wealthy Buenos Aires province – wanted to move the seat of national government inland, but powerful interests wouldn’t budge.

Argentina’s political leaders ultimately reached a compromise: leave Buenos Aires as the federal capital but separate it from the province as an autonomous district. Although the plan sought to put an end to the lengthy conflict, it was complicated by the fact that no other city was large enough to become the new provincial capital. The solution? Build a new city from scratch.

The task of selecting a site fell to provincial governor Dardo Rocha, who recruited engineer Pedro Benoit. They chose a location roughly 30 miles south-east of Buenos Aires city, just far enough away to give the new metropolis its own identity.

Unlike nearby Buenos Aires, whose crooked street pattern is difficult to categorise, Benoit’s city – La Plata – would be a perfect square grid, measuring 36 by 36 blocks. Every six blocks, streets were widened into avenues for faster moving traffic and, where avenues intersected, squares or roundabouts were placed. Splitting the grid pattern were two main “diagonals”, originating from the corners of the grid plan and converging at the city’s absolute centre. There, a larger public square was placed, intended to become the nucleus of civic life. And right at its heart, Benoit planned for a touchstone landmark – La Plata’s cathedral, to be crowned with towering Gothic spires.

La Plata’s square grid plan

The cathedral’s towering Gothic design was chosen by Rocha, who felt it was the purest expression of divine will. According to Eduardo Karakachoff, a member of preservation society Defendamos La Plata (Defend La Plata), the cathedral was situated in the city’s centre because of the central role of religion in public life. “It symbolised the belief that all members of society are equally close to God,” Karakachoff says.

La Plata’s masterplan marked a significant turning point in urban planning in Argentina. While earlier designs were shaped by the Laws of the Indies enacted by the Spanish monarchy, Benoit’s plan reflected a more secular stance toward governance. The cathedral was placed on the opposite side of the central plaza from the government buildings of the new capital – a recognition of the separation of church and state that sought to facilitate the appropriate role of both entities.

After ground was broken on the new city in 1882, the street layout and government buildings were quickly constructed. But the progress of the cathedral was much more gradual. As well as complex designs slowing down construction, the project was hampered by recession and political upheaval in 1884. Eventually opened nearly 50 years later in 1932, one key feature was missing from the cathedral: the signature spires. To many, it seemed that Benoit’s original vision would never become a reality.

Meanwhile, the city itself faced a similar crisis. After La Plata’s 1880s optimism wore off, construction hit a slump. Though the inclusion of electricity and running water throughout the new town was considered a technological marvel, the lack of permanent residents led many to see La Plata as an overgrown ghost town. In 1890, French visitor Thèodore Childe remarked: “The city has everything except residents, and a reason to exist.”

Despite later efforts to liven up the city, such as a new university campus built in 1905, it would take most of the 20 th century for La Plata to shake this reputation. During the second half of the century, La Plata’s status as the preeminent planned city in South America was eclipsed by the construction of Brazil’s new capital, Brasilia. Due to its larger scale and faithful adherence to the urban planning principles of Le Corbusier and his Brazilian protégé Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia quickly gained international recognition as the future of urban design. For all the international attention La Plata had received when it was built – including two gold medals at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris – its more pedestrian-friendly design now seemed like a relic of some bygone era.

The cathedral under construction in 1910. The spires were not completed until the 1990s. Photograph: Alinari Archives/Getty Images

But La Plata was due for a renaissance, and one that would begin dramatically. In 1987, a political rally held in front of the La Plata Cathedral was interrupted when a large pane of glass broke from the building and shattered on a chair where the governor of Buenos Aires had been seated only seconds earlier. This generated the political will not only to repair the deteriorating cathedral, but to build the two spires that the city’s creator had envisioned over 100 years ago. Construction began in 1997, and by 1999 the cathedral was finally opened – spires and all – in front of a crowd of 150,000 people.

By then, the city itself had matured, too, transforming into a metropolis with its own distinctive culture. Today’s Platenses (residents of La Plata) pride themselves on their identity as respectful, bookish and fun loving, if a bit less rowdy than their neighbours in Buenos Aires.

While La Plata once had trouble attracting new residents, now there may be too many, and many of the original buildings have been replaced by high-rise towers, often built without adequate consideration for drainage. Currently, the biggest threat is not to the cathedral but to many of the city’s other historic buildings. Additionally, a large portion of the eucalyptus forest, which Dardo Rocha insisted on saving during the city’s creation, has now been cleared to make way for a privately owned football stadium.

Defendamos La Plata has been particularly vocal about preserving the city’s heritage. Karakachoff says that development has been “completely out of control” since a new building code was introduced in 2010. In April 2013, three years after the new construction-friendly code was approved, La Plata was rocked by a devastating flood with a death toll that would ultimately reach 89 people. City officials maintain that given the intense rains, the disaster could not have been avoided. But Defendamos La Plata and others feel that untethered development, especially in La Plata’s historic core, placed an unnecessary burden on the city’s drainage system.

Though the monumental status of the cathedral makes it unlikely to ever face the wrecking ball, its positioning and visibility throughout the city may be threatened if the smaller residential developments around it are replaced by high-rises.

Where in a city would a cathedral be built? - History

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heavens is the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It is situated atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo) in Downtown Mexico City. The cathedral was built in sections from 1573 to 1813 around the original church that was constructed soon after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan, eventually replacing it entirely. Spanish architect Claudio de Arciniega planned the construction, drawing inspiration from Gothic cathedrals in Spain.

Due to the long time it took to build it, just under 250 years, virtually all the main architects, painters, sculptors, gilding masters and other plastic artists of the viceroyalty worked at some point in the construction of the enclosure. This same condition, that of its extensive period of construction, allowed the integration into it of the various architectural styles that were in force and in vogue in those centuries: Gothic, Baroque, Churrigueresque, Neoclassical, among others. Same situation experienced different ornaments, paintings, sculptures and furniture in the interior.

Its realization meant a point of social cohesion, because it involved the same ecclesiastical authorities, government authorities, different religious brotherhoods as many generations of social groups of all classes.

It is also, as a consequence of the influence of the Catholic Church on public life, that the building was intertwined with events of historical significance for the societies of New Spain and independent Mexico. To mention a few, there are the coronation of Agustín de Iturbide and Ana María Huarte as emperors of Mexico by the President of the Congress the preservation of the funeral remains of the aforementioned monarch burial until 1925 of several of the independence heroes such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos the disputes between liberals and conservatives caused by the separation of the church and the state in the Reform the closure of the building in the days of the Cristero War the celebrations of the bicentennial of independence, among others.

The cathedral faces south. The approximate measurements of this church are 59 metres (194 ft) wide by 128 metres (420 ft) long and a height of 67 metres (220 ft) to the tip of the towers. It consists of two bell towers, a central dome, three main portals. It has four façades which contain portals flanked with columns and statues. It has five naves consisting of 51 vaults, 74 arches and 40 columns. The two bell towers contain a total of 25 bells. The tabernacle, adjacent to the cathedral, contains the baptistery and serves to register the parishioners.

There are five large, ornate altars, a sacristy, a choir, a choir area, a corridor and a capitulary room. Fourteen of the cathedral’s sixteen chapels are open to the public. Each chapel is dedicated to a different saint or saints, and each was sponsored by a religious guild. The chapels contain ornate altars, altarpieces, retablos, paintings, furniture and sculptures. The cathedral is home to two of the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas. There is a crypt underneath the cathedral that holds the remains of many former archbishops. The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.

Over the centuries, the cathedral has suffered damage. A fire in 1967 destroyed a significant part of the cathedral’s interior. The restoration work that followed uncovered a number of important documents and artwork that had previously been hidden. Although a solid foundation was built for the cathedral, the soft clay soil it is built on has been a threat to its structural integrity. Dropping water tables and accelerated sinking caused the structure to be added to the World Monuments Fund list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. Restoration work beginning in the 1990s stabilized the cathedral and it was removed from the endangered list in 2000.

Background: The Greater Church
After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, and after the return of Hernán Cortés from the exploration of present-day Honduras, the conquerors decided to build a church in the place where the Main Temple of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán was located to, from In this way, consolidate Spanish power over the newly conquered territory. There is evidence of the existence of a large major temple dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl, a temple dedicated to the god Huitzilopochtli and other minor buildings.

The architect Martín de Sepúlveda was the first director of the project between 1524 and 1532, while Juan de Zumárraga was the first bishop of the episcopal headquarters in the New World. The Zumárraga cathedral was in the northeast part of what is the current cathedral. It had three naves separated by Tuscan columns, the central roof had intricate engravings made by Juan Salcedo Espinosa and gold by Francisco de Zumaya and Andrés de la Concha. The main door was probably Renaissance style. The choir had 48 seats made by hand by Adrián Suster and Juan Montaño in wood ofayacahuite. For the construction, they used the stones of the destroyed temple of the god Huitzilopochtli, god of war and principal deity of the Aztecs.

In spite of everything, this temple was soon considered insufficient for the growing importance of the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. This first church was elevated to cathedral by King Carlos I of Spain and Pope Clement VII according to bula of the 9 of September of 1534 and later metropolitan appointed by Paul III in 1547.

This small, poor church, vilified by all the chroniclers who deemed it unworthy of such a large and famous city, rendered its services bad for many years. Very soon it was ordered that a new temple be built, of proportionate sumptuousness to the greatness of the Colony more, more this new factory encountered so many obstacles to its beginning, with so many difficulties for its prosecution, that the old temple saw passing in its ships narrow sumptuous ceremonies of the viceroyalty and only when the fact that motivated them was of great importance, would another church, such as that of San Francisco, be chosen to raise the burial mound for the funeral of Carlos V in its enormous chapel of San José de los Indios.

Seeing that the conclusion of the new church was long, its factory was beginning, the year of 1584 it was decided to completely repair the old cathedral, which would undoubtedly be little less than ruinous, to celebrate the third Mexican Council.

The church was little more than the front of the new cathedral its three ships did not reach 30 meters wide and were roofed, the central one with a half-scissors armor, those on the sides with horizontal beams. In addition to the door of Forgiveness there was another call from the Canons, and perhaps a third was left to the place of the Marquis. Years later, the cathedral was small for its function. In 1544, the ecclesiastical authorities had already ordered the construction of a new and more sumptuous cathedral.

Start of the work
Almost all the American cathedrals of this first Renaissance era follow the model of that of Jaén, whose first stone was laid in 1540. Rectangular in plan and, at most with the Ochavada chapel, are the cathedrals of Mexico, Puebla. (…) He was mainly inspired by the 1540 Jaén Cathedral, with a rectangular plan and flat head, although it is likely that he would also be seduced by the Valladolid Herrera model, the relationship between the Valladolid cathedral, projected in 1580, with the American cathedrals it has not been sufficiently taken into account.
Extracted from Hispanic American Art (1988).

In 1552, an agreement was reached whereby the cost of the new cathedral would be shared by the Spanish crown, the commenders and the Indians under the direct authority of the archbishop of New Spain. The initial plans for the foundation of the new cathedral began in 1562, within the project for the construction of the work, the then archbishop Alonso de Montúfar would have proposed a monumental construction composed of seven ships and based on the design of the Cathedral of Seville a project that in the words of Montúfar himself would take 10 or 12 years. The weight of a work of such dimensions in a subsoil of marshy origin would require a special foundation. Initially cross beams were placed to build a platform, something that required high costs and a constant drain, in the end said project would be abandoned not only because of the aforementioned cost, but because of the floods suffered by the city center. It is then that, supported by indigenous techniques, solid wood piles are injected at great depth, around twenty thousand of these piles in an area of six thousand square meters. The project is reduced from the original seven ships to only five: one central, two processional and two lateral for the 16 chapels. Construction began with the designs and models created byClaudio de Arciniega and Juan Miguel de Agüero, inspired by the Spanish cathedrals of Jaén and Valladolid.

In 1571, with some delay, Viceroy Martín Enríquez de Almansa and Archbishop Pedro Moya de Contreras laid the first stone of the current temple. The cathedral began to be built in 1573 around the existing church that was demolished when the works advanced enough to house the basic functions of the temple.

The work began with a north-south orientation, contrary to that of most cathedrals, this due to the subsoil gouges that would affect the building with a traditional east-west orientation. First the chapter room and the sacristy were built the construction of the vaults and the ships took a hundred years.

Construction development
The beginning of the works was found in a muddy and unstable terrain that complicated the works, due to this, the tezontle and the chiluca stone were favored as building materials in several areas, on the quarry, being these lighter ones. In 1581, the walls began to be erected and in 1585 the work began in the first chapel, at that time the names of the stonecutters who worked on the work were: Juan Arteaga worked in the chapels and Hernán García de Villaverde encasaments, who also worked on the pillars whose half samples were sculpted by Martín Casillas. In 1615 the walls reached half of their total height. The interior works began in 1623for the sacristy, the primitive church being demolished. The 21 of September of 1629, the works were interrupted by the flood that struck the city, where the water reached two meters high, causing damage to what is now the Plaza of the Constitution and other parts of the city. Because of the damage, a project was started to build the new cathedral in the hills of Tacubaya, west of the city but the idea was discarded and the project continued in the same location, under the direction of Juan Gómez de Trasmonte.

Archbishop Marcos Ramírez de Prado y Ovando made the second dedication on December 22, 1667, the year in which the last vault was closed. At the date of consecration, (lacking, at that time, bell towers, main facade and other elements built in the eighteenth century ), the cost of what was built was equivalent to 1 759 000 pesos. This cost was largely covered by the kings of Spain Felipe II, Felipe III, Felipe IV and Carlos II. Annexes to the central core of the building would be added over the years the Seminary College, the Chapel of the animas, and the buildings of the Tabernacle and the Curia.

In 1675 the central part of the main facade was completed, the work of the architect Cristóbal de Medina Vargas, which included the figure of the Assumption of Mary, an invocation to which the cathedral is dedicated, and the sculptures of Santiago el mayor and San Andrés guarding. During the remainder of the 17th century, the first body of the eastern tower is built, designed by the architects Juan Lozano and Juan Serrano. The main cover of the building and those of the east side were built in 1688 and that of the west in 1689. The six buttresses that support the structure by the side of its main facade and the botareles that support the vaults of the main nave were completed. During the eighteenth century little was done to advance in the term of the construction of the Cathedral largely because, already concluded inside and useful for all the ceremonies that were offered, there was no urgent need to continue working on what was missing.

Although the work had been suspended in fact, some works inside continued by 1737 he was a major teacher Domingo de Arrieta. He made, in the company of José Eduardo de Herrera, architecture teacher, the stands surrounding the choir. In 1742 Manuel de Álvarez, architecture teacher, ruled with the same Herrera about the presbytery project presented by Jerónimo de Balbás.

In 1752, on September 17, a cross of iron was placed on the crown of the dome of this Church, of more than three rods, with its weather vane, engraved on either side of the Sanctus Deus prayer, and in the middle of it an oval of a quarter, in which Agnus wax with its stained glass window was placed on the one hand and on the other side a sheet in which Mrs. Santa Prisca, a lawyer for lightning, was sculpted. The spike of this cross is of two rods and all its weight of fourteen arrobas he stuck himself in a stone base.

In 1787, the architect José Damián Ortiz de Castro was appointed, after a contest in which the projects of José Joaquín de Torres and Isidro Vicente de Balbás were imposed, to direct the construction works of the bell towers, the main facade and the Dome. For the construction of the towers, the Mexican architect Ortiz de Castro designed a project to make them effective against earthquakes a second body that seems openwork and a bell-shaped auction. His direction in the project continued until his death in 1793. Moment in which he was replaced by Manuel Tolsá, architect and sculptor driving the Neoclassical, who arrived in the country in 1791. Tolsa is responsible for completing the work of the cathedral. Rebuild the dome that was low and disproportionate, design a project that consists of opening a larger ring on which builds a circular platform, to raise a much higher lantern from there. Integra the flames, statues and balustrades. Crown the facade with figures that symbolize the three theological virtues (Faith, hope and charity).

The cathedral in independent Mexico
Once the independence of Mexico was concluded, the cathedral was soon the scene of important chapters in the history of the new country. Being the main religious center and seat of ecclesiastical power, it was part of different events that involved the public life of independent Mexico.

The 21 of July of 1822 the coronation ceremony was held Agustin de Iturbide as Emperor of Mexico. Early twenty-four canyons sounded, balconies were adorned and the facades of public buildings were adorned, as well as atriums and church portals. Two thrones were placed in the cathedral, the main one next to the presbyter and the minor one near the choir. Shortly before nine o’clock in the morning, the members of Congress and the City Council occupied their destined places. Troops of cavalry and infantry made fence to the future emperor and his entourage. Three bishops officiated mass. The president of the Congress, Rafael Mangino, was in charge of placing the crown on Agustín I, then the emperor himself wrapped the crown to the empress. Other badges were imposed on the newly crowned by generals and bridesmaids, Bishop Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas y Crespo exclaimed Vivat Imperator in aeternum! “Long live the emperor and the empress!” After the ceremony, the ringing of the bells and the crash of the cannons informed the people that the coronation had been accomplished.

In 1825 the heads of Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and Mariano Jiménez, rescued and sheltered after having hung in front of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato, were transferred from the Parish of Santo Domingo to the Metropolitan Cathedral in a solemn procession. The march of the skulls protected in an urn covered with black velvet was accompanied by the ringing of the bells, the voices of the Cabildo Choir and the brotherhoods that were then responsible for the chapels of the Cathedral. Months before, those same skulls hung in front of the Alhondiga and now the archbishopPedro José de Fonte and Hernández Miravete gave authorization that the Jubilee Gate of the enclosure be opened wide to receive the so-called ‘heroes’ of Independence.

The remains of José María Morelos, Francisco Javier Mina, Mariano Matamoros and Hermenegildo Galeana were also received. The remains were placed in the Crypt of the Archbishops and Viceroys and at that time it was written: “To the honorable remains of the magnanimous and impertérritos caudillos, parents of Mexican freedom, and victims of perfidy and nepotism, the crying homeland and grateful erected this public monument ”.

However, there they did not stay long around 1885, by orders of then President Porfirio Díaz Mori, the remains were taken from the Cathedral and then, again, were taken in procession to the cathedral grounds, but this time, the procession was headed by the President of the Republic, City Hall Ministers and Secretaries, civil authorities, popular organizations, Mexican flags and lay banners that reflected the character of the time. Once again, the Jubilee Gate saw the heroes of the Fatherland parade, although this time without Morelos.

Then they were placed in the Chapel of San José, and there they were about forty years until in 1925 they left the Cathedral to be placed at the base of the Column of the Angel of Independence on Paseo de la Reforma. The Mexican government did not take the body, however, of Agustín de Iturbide, who remains in the Chapel of San Felipe de Jesús.

Being Archbishop of Mexico José Lázaro de la Garza y Ballesteros, he pronounced against the Reform Laws contained in the Constitution of 1857. In March 1857, he declared during a sermon that the new laws were “hostile to the Church.” On April 17, he sent a circular to all the priests of his diocese “preventing the faithful who had sworn the constitution from being acquitted without prior public retraction.” His position was heard by many employees who refused to swear the Magna Carta, who were dismissed from their posts by the Mexican government. In different parts of the country, different pronouncements and armed uprisings were carried out under the cry of “Religion and fueros”.

Consequently, Mexican society was divided into two factions. The liberals who supported the reforms to the Constitution and the conservatives who detracted it by supporting the clergy. The War of Reform broke out in the Mexican territory, establishing two governments. On the one hand the Constitutional in charge of Benito Juárez and promulgated by a Board of the Conservative Party under the command of Félix María Zuloaga. The 23 of January of 1858 the Conservative government was formally established, the liberal government had to escape from the capital. The Archbishop officiated a mass in the Cathedral and to celebrate the event theTe deum. On February 12, De la Garza sent a letter to the interim president Zuloaga to congratulate his government officially and give him his support.

During much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a number of different factors influenced a partial loss of his artistic heritage The natural deterioration of time was added, the generational changes in taste, fires, thefts, but also the lack of a regulatory framework and an awareness for the conservation of the property and its properties, of course, both by the authorities ecclesiastical as governmental. In this way both entities made use of artistic treasures to solve the consequences of political and economic instability in the country. For example, silver lamps and music stands, as well as gold vessels and other jewels were melted to finance the wars of the mid-19th century. The change in artistic fashion also influenced when the main altar of the 17th century was replaced with aBaroque cypress in the 18th century made by Jerónimo de Balbás which was replaced by Lorenzo de la Hidalga’s neoclassical style and removed to improve the visibility of the Altar of the Kings in 1943.

The December to June of 1864 was part of the lavish reception in Mexico City of the emperors Maximilian of Hapsburg and Carlota Amalia, who attended a Mass of thanksgiving in the building that day.

As part of the series of events that led to the unleashing of the Cristero War, on February 4, 1926, a protest was published in the newspaper El Universal declared by Archbishop José Mora y del Río nine years earlier against the new Constitution, but the note was presented as new news, that is, as if it were a recent statement. On the orders of President Calles – who considered the declaration a challenge to the Government – Mora y del Río was consigned to the Attorney General’s Officeand stopped several temples were closed, among them the same Cathedral and the foreign priests were expelled. Constitutional article 130 was regulated as the Law of Cults (better known as the Streets Law ), religious schools were closed and the number of priests was limited so that only one officiated for every six thousand inhabitants. On June 21, 1929, during the presidency of Emilio Portes Gil, the Church and the Government signed the arrangements that put an end to the hostilities in the Mexican territory, with which the premises were reopened.

The 26 of January of 1979 received for the first time in history the visit, a high priest of the Catholic Church, the Pope John Paul II, who in the midst of a rally, offered a historic mass in which would give one of his you celebrate phrases: Mexico always faithful! be until the 13 of February of 2016 that would succeed another visit by a maximum Catholic leader, when Pope Francis attended a meeting with all the bishops of the dioceses of Mexico.

The night of the 15 of September of 2010 was one of the main scenes of the celebrations of the bicentennial a multimedia show of images and sound projected on its main facade, accompanied by fireworks, was the closing of the main events in the capital Zócalo.

1967 fire
On January 17, 1967, a short circuit generated a major fire in the cathedral. On the altar of forgiveness, part of the structure and decoration was lost, as well as the paintings La Santa Faz by Alonso López de Herrera, El Martirio de San Sebastián by Francisco de Zumaya and La Virgen del Perdón by Simon Pereyns. In the choir, 75 of his 99 seats, a painting by Juan Correa and many books that were in it were lost. The two organs of the cathedral were very damaged by partially melting their tubes. In other parts of the cathedral, outstanding paintings by Rafael Ximeno y Planes, Juan Correa andJuan Rodriguez Juarez. Four years after the fire, in 1972, the restoration works of the cathedral began, to restore its original appearance.

The altars of forgiveness and kings were cleansed and restored. In the Altar of Forgiveness, several paintings were added that replaced the burned ones, The Escape from Egypt, The Divine Face and The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, all works by Pereyns. In addition, 51 paintings were found, works by Nicolás and Juan Rodríguez Juárez, Miguel Cabrera and José de Ibarra, hidden behind the altar. The organs were dismantled and sent to the Netherlands where they were repaired in a process that lasted until 1977. Inside one of the bodies was found a copy of 1529 of the appointment of Hernán Cortés as governor of New Spain. The choir was rebuilt in 1979. Outside, some of the statues were repaired or replaced by replicas due to the damage they presented to the contamination. On the wall of the central arch of the cathedral he was found the tomb of President Miguel Barragan.

The construction of the cathedral on unstable ground led to problems since the beginning of the works. The cathedral, along with the rest of the city, sinks into the lake bed since the beginning of its construction. This process accelerated due to the overexploitation of underground aquifers by the huge population that lives there. This fact caused the sinking to different rhythms in different sections of the cathedral, thus, the bell towers, presented a dangerous inclination in the 1970s. In 1990, work began to stabilize the cathedral, although it was built on a solid base, This was located in turn on a soft clay soil that was a threat to its structural integrity, since a subsidence was suffered on the lower water tables, causing damage to the structure. Therefore, the cathedral was included in the World Monuments Fund as one of the hundred sites at greatest risk. After the stabilization and completion of the works, the cathedral was removed from that list in 2000. Between 1993 and 1998, work was carried out that helped stabilize the building. Wells were excavated under the cathedral and concrete shafts were placed that provided a stronger base for the building. This did not stop the sinking but it does ensure that it is uniform. In addition, the inclination of the towers was corrected.

Along with the structural rescue of the building, remodeling, conditioning and rescue work was also initiated inside the architectural complex, with the Altar de los Reyes standing out, which was carried out in collaboration with the government of Spain.

Manuel Tolsá
Manuel Tolsá y Sarrión, was born in Enguera, Valencia, on May 4, 1757. He was a well-known Spanish architect and sculptor, active in New Spain (today Mexico) between 1791 and 1825, where he served as Director of Sculpture of the Academy from San Carlos.

He studied in Valencia at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. He was a disciple of Ribelles, Gascó and Gilabert in architecture. He was a sculptor of the king’s chamber, minister of the Board of Commerce, Currency and Mines and academic in San Fernando. He arrived in New Spain in 1791 with books, work instruments and copies of classical sculptures of the Vatican Museum. He married nuptials with María Luisa de Sanz Téllez Girón and Espinosa in the port of Veracruz.

Upon arrival, the city council commissioned him to supervise the drainage and water supply works of Mexico City and the reforestation of the Alameda Central. For these services he received no compensation. Then he dedicated himself to the different artistic and civil works for which he remembers. In addition, he made furniture, melted cannons, opened a bathhouse and a car factory and installed a ceramic oven. He died from a gastric ulcer, in Las Lagunas, Oaxaca, on December 25, 1816. He was buried in the pantheon of the Oaxaca temple.

Works by Manuel Tolsá in Mexico

Conclusion of the works of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.
Palace of Mining.
Equestrian statue of Carlos IV “El Caballito”.
Former Palace of Buenavista (now the National Museum of San Carlos).
Palace of the Marquis del Apartado. In front of the main temple.
Main altar of the Cathedral of Puebla
Main altar of the church of Santo Domingo.
Main altar of the church of La Profesa.
Altar of the Immaculate Conception in the church of La Profesa.
Bust of Hernán Cortés at the Hospital de Jesús.
Bronze Christs found in the Morelia Cathedral.
Projection of the fourth stage (neoclassical) of the Loreto church.
Hospicio Cabañas plans in Guadalajara.
Marquise de Selva Nevada cell in the former convent of Regina Porta Coeli. Today owned by the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana.

Tolsá has as a seal, the placement of balustrades at the end of the buildings where he worked.

The Cathedral of Mexico and Tolsá
Seat and chair of the bishop, the Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in sociological terms since it represents religious authority in New Spain, and one of the main reasons to justify the conquest of the country. On the other hand, it shows the temporary wealth of the clergy throughout the colonial era.

The primitive Cathedral was in the southwest corner of the current atrium. It was small, simple, with a wooden structure. Cortés laid the first stone. But the current Cathedral is the work of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mainly, but also the fourteenth. All the styles of the Colony are reflected in this work. Infinite architects, important and mediocre, intervened in his works (with the fire of January 1967, this intervention has been prolonged). Some advocated contemporary restoration – modifying some elements – and others wanted the identical restitution of the choir, stalls and damaged parts. The latter was what was done.

The Cathedral is huge: it is more than 100 meters long and 60 meters wide, the towers reach the height of 64 meters. It has five naves: the two lateral ones, with terraced altars, in which mass is celebrated, and the two processional ones, around the central one, closed by the huge choir, with an altar in the transept that was covered by the baroque cypress churrigueresque of Gerónimo de Balbas, already destroyed, and later of the neoclassical cypress of the architect Lorenzo de la Hidalga, of magnificent invoice, in spite of what the critics say, also destroyed, without any fuss of the clergy and historians.

The Veracruz architect Damián Ortiz de Castro was the major master of the works upon the arrival of Tolsá in Mexico. This architect had finished the very original and well-proportioned towers, the dome drum and various interior works.

When Ortiz de Castro died, he inherited the title and position of Don Manuel Tolsá in 1793, that is, three years after his arrival in Mexico. Fact that confirms the importance at that time of being peninsular Spanish, regardless of the desires of our artist.

Tolsá receives the Cathedral in its last stage of construction, and finishes it splendidly. It gives the work “an aspect of something complete, complete,” says Manuel Toussaint.

The Valencian architect, with great talent, realizes the state of the work, its diversity of styles and the relatively ungrateful problem of intervening in something almost finished. But it demonstrates here its enormous power of observation and its spatial understanding, since the body is solid, and it would be heavy if it were not for the great width of the church. On the other hand, the huge towers almost “eat” the whole. It was therefore necessary to underline the entry, especially that the work is symmetrical in its forms.

On the main facade it places a huge volume so that it reaches the height of the starting of the towers, and with it it manages to give unity to the main facade towards the Zócalo, as well as to remove rigidity when crowning it with three large sculptures and perfect proportion with the set, given the great height of the clock, after calculating the points from where they look. This is pure baroque.

In addition, it unifies facades, towers and buttresses by means of the unifying harmonic theme of the balustrades, which is repeated at the top, length and width of the entire Cathedral. The buttresses have inverted brackets that link the lower and middle part of the Cathedral. In the towers he continues to repeat his spatial theme: the balustrades and walls that support the florons to insist even more on the importance of the balustrade, but also underline the supporting structure.

These flowers show their respect for the previous structure, and not as we have wanted to see, something ostentatious or simply ornamental the positive thing is that it underlines the structural rhythm and gives relevance to the balustrades, which serve – as everyone recognizes – to grant unity to the group in which many architects had intervened during two hundred years of work.

The dome will be its great auction, since when raising the volume of the clock it was hidden and the clarity of the party was hidden or obscured: a T-shaped Latin cross plant, that is to say as the Christian cross, which has a greater arm than The one who crosses it.

The drum and dome projected by Damián Ortiz de Castro were correct, but with the increase of the clock, Tolsá warns that it is necessary to give the dome greater relevance: it is attached in stone half pilasters and frames the windows with Ionic columns that ends with very prominent pediments. With this he manages to give breadth to the dome, which seen from afar looks like a magnificent crown of the temple.

We would like to add that the recent stained glass windows by sculptor Mathias Goeritz in the windows of the Cathedral are excellent, in color and shape, and perhaps they should continue in the lantern.

The sculptures of the clock are works by Manuel Tolsá, perfectly proportioned to the architecture and with a very good baroque invoice.

In all the work the Tolsá baroque championship advances and setbacks of space, be pediments and columns of the dome Be it your ornamentation: the delightful repetition of flowers and boards is enriched with bulk sculptures and floral motifs.

Manuel Toussaint
He was born in Puebla on May 29, 1890. When he had just folded the cape, blue and gold, of the good hope that they are 30 years old, he was already learned in several disciplines He had since then a vague, an indefinable sadness. His joys were like mist-shrouded, slight evening haze.

Manuel Toussaint is a gentleman of good and chosen garments rested, calm and in all extended its softness. He preferred accuracy more than broken or tortuous lines He was a friend of the clear and simple, of sober wealth. It was a neoclassical spirit. But although seated and of judgment, he had a restless and boisterous understanding and thus has an emotion wave before things, he embedded in them the heart and later described them with ideality, with delicate love.

Of great intellectual activity, there were no lazy breaks, but always he was busy between manuscripts and books and stirring ideas I was already daily with the pen on paper composing essays, or stories, or serious studies of history and this is how the ingenuity was polished by the exercise and became one of our avant-garde writers. He knew how to put his restlessness between the dust and the moths of mamotretos and infolios from where he was taking with exquisite tino kind and beautiful things. In his hands the document loses its curial coldness and makes it enjoyable.

The generous task of going through those peoples of God, diverted from all dealings and commerce with the big cities, and having such beautiful names as if they belonged to the spiritual geography of an artist writer was given for years villages that seem to be out of time, in which life was stopped, as full of stupor, in the midst of the lights of the century, looking only towards the past with a long talk of nostalgia. And after these wanderings, he counts on a clean and flexible prose, of the abandoned churches, of the illustrious sanctuaries, of the great colonial mansions, of the convents in which humble servants of God and tall men lived, of the hermitages, humiliators and reposorios, of the old paintings that already put their colors in the transparent darkness of the patinas,

It should be noted that Toussaint in 1934 founded the Art Laboratory of the UNAM, later called the Institute of Aesthetic Research (IIE). He is the author of a magnificent and huge volume on a large folio, preciously illustrated, which contains the entire history of our great Cathedral, from the time he laid his first fundamental stone until Tolsá ended it, with all its ornaments and the splendor of its numerous riches Fruit of its fruitful runs through Europe lands, is another volume, hallucinated trips, of value for the very pleasant that they enclose between their pages. He wrote with great knowledge, the history of painting in Mexico, a beautiful book with beautiful graphic information. It unravels an infinite number of problems that had remained insoluble until Manuel Toussaint laid hands on them with great scholarship and talent.

Cathedral chapel masters during the viceroyalty
During the entire viceregal period the cathedral had an intense and brilliant musical activity organized by its corresponding chapel masters. These had the obligation not only to organize the ecclesiastical musical life of the cathedral for all major festivities, but also to instruct the corresponding musicians, compose the necessary musical works and organize the musical archives. The result of this constant activity is a delicious musical archive that competes in America with the splendid musical archive of the cathedral of Puebla, that of the Basilica of Guadalupe or the musical archives preserved in Cuzco or Chuquisaca. None of all these music files has been thoroughly studied and most of that music remains unpublished. Unfortunately, there is no contemporary attempt to continue the musical tradition of the Latin American cathedrals by playing the preserved collection or hiring composers who write new works. The chapel masters of the cathedral of Mexico of which works are mostly preserved in the cathedral archive were:

Juan Xuárez (1538-1556)
Lázaro del Álamo (1556-1570)
Juan de Victoria (1570-575)
Hernando Franco (1575-1585)
Juan Hernández (1586-1618)
Antonio Rodríguez de Mata (1619-1648)
Fabian Ximeno (1648-1654)
Francisco López y Capillas (1654-1673)
Hyacinth of the Vega Francisco Ponce (1673-h. 1676)
Joseph de Loaysa and Agurto (h. 1676-1688)
Antonio de Salazar (1688-1715)
Manuel de Sumaya (1715-1739)
Domingo Dutra and Andrade (1741-1750)
Ignatius of Jerusalem and Stella (1750-1769)
Mateo Tollis della Rocca (1769-1780)
Martín Bernárdez Rivera (1781-1791)
Antonio de Juanas (1791-1814)
Vicente Gómez Matheo Manterola (1815-1818?)
José María Bustamante and Eduardo Campuzano (1818-1821?)
José Mariano Elízaga (1822)

The musical archive of the cathedral of Mexico is one of the largest in America It has a collection of more than 5000 works, covering from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, in various formats such as choir books, religious music, profane and musical treatises.

Washington National Cathedral

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Washington National Cathedral, also called Washington Cathedral, officially Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, in Washington, D.C., Episcopal cathedral chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1893 and established on Mount St. Alban (the highest point in the city) in 1907. Its cornerstone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt. Although construction slowed during periods of economic hardship and stopped altogether during 1977–80, the building was completed in 1990.

Designed and constructed in the 14th-century English Gothic style, the edifice was also built without the use of steel support in a centuries-old manner—using artists, sculptors, and stone masons. Radiant heating in the stone floor is one of its few concessions to modernity. The cathedral is built in the shape of a cross, its length extending some 530 feet (160 metres), and can seat about 4,000 in the United States it is second in size only to New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine (still uncompleted).

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

Our History

San Fernando Cathedral has always been at the center of San Antonio. It is a special place that occupies a unique position in this city and for the many visitors who come by the thousands every year.

San Fernando Cathedral was founded on March 9, 1731 by a group of 15 families who came from the Canary Islands at the invitation of King Phillip V of Spain and is the oldest, continuously functioning religious community in the State of Texas. This church was planned to be at the center of the life of this city. The Cathedral building has the added distinction of being the oldest standing church building in Texas, and for all of its more than 281 years, has been serving the people of the Archdiocese and San Antonio. For almost 95 years, San Fernando served as the church for all of the religious denominations of San Antonio as the Catholic Church was the only recognized religion of the Spanish and Mexican governments prior to Texas' independence. San Fernando has become more than the geographic center it has become an ecumenical, cultural, civic, and service center of unity and harmony for all the God-loving people of San Antonio and beyond. San Fernando serves as a refuge for many of the poor in this area who come for help and trust their needs will be met. As the first church in the city, San Fernando has a rich history of responding to the people's needs in and around the church.

Over 5,000 participate at weekend Masses each week of the year. Over 900 baptisms, 100 weddings, 100 funerals, and countless other services are performed each year. Symphonies, concerts, and television specials are but a few of the special events held in the cathedral regularly. Hundreds of people enter the church daily to pray, visit, light a candle, or follow various devotional traditions. Tour buses arrive constantly. Each person is a part of the story of this magnificent place and a tribute to its enduring presence as the spiritual center of San Antonio.

The Year of Calamity

A fire on March 21, 1788, started when a candle ignited the lace draperies of an altar in the home of the military treasurer of the colony, Vincente Jose Nunez, on Chartres Street. Among the buildings burned to the ground were the Church of St. Louis, the priests' residence, and the Casa Principal, which housed the Cabildo.

In a letter written on March 28, 1788, Father Antonio de Sedella (Pere Antoine), who was pastor of the church, described the rapidity with which the fire made headway. He wrote that he had sent some of the church records to the home of the tobacco director, "distant from the Presbytere about two rifle shots," but they were lost when that house caught fire.

Nearly a year elapsed before the charred remains of the church were cleared away and construction of a new church began in early 1789. More than five years were to pass before the new church was completed in December, 1794.

The second Church of St. Louis was the gift of the wealthy Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, a native of Andalusia who had acquired numerous properties since his arrival in New Orleans in the wake of Governor Alejandro O'Reilly.

As Louisiana and the Floridas had been created a diocese in 1793, and Luis Pefialver y Cardenas appointed first bishop with New Orleans as his See city, the new church was dedicated as a Cathedral and put into service on Christmas Eve, 1794.

Shortly before the completion of the Cathedral, on April 25, 1793, the diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas was created by Pope Pius VI. Don Luis Ignacio Maria de Pefialver y Cardenas of Havana was appointed the first bishop.

He arrived in state in New Orleans in July, 1795 to take formal possession of his See and begin his episcopal duties.

In 1819 a New Orleans clockmaker, Jean Delachaux, was authorized by the trustees to obtain a suitable clock to be placed in the facade of the Cathedral.

As this was a project of general civic interest, the City Council agreed to the expense of buying the clock and its bell and also to share in the cost of erecting a central tower to house them. Delachaux brought the clock and bell with him from Paris and Latrobe records in his journal an incident which occurred when he was about to place the clock's bell in the tower:

This bell, which still rings out the hours from above the church's clock, is inscribed in French: Braves Louisianais, cette cloche dont le nom est Victoire a été fondue en mémoire de la glorieuse journée du 8 Janvier 1815. [Brave people of Louisiana, this clock, whose name is Victory, was cast in memory of the glorious 8 th of January, 1815]

Surmounting both inscriptions are American eagles and at the bottom of the bell an inscription reads: Fondue a Paris pour M. Jn. Delachaux de Nouvelle Orleans. [Cast in Paris for Mr. John Delachaux of New Orleans.]

The central tower, which added grace and dignity to the Cathedral, was one of Latrobe's last projects, for he died in New Orleans of yellow fever on September 3,1820, before it was completed.

In 1829 an organ was imported and in 1825 Francisco Zapari, an Italian painter, was employed at a fee of $1,855 to decorate the interior of the church and its three altars.

On January 22, 1829, the well-beloved Pere Antoine was laid to rest in the church after a funeral service which was one of the largest ever seen in the city. For more than 40 years, this remarkable Capuchin priest had labored in New Orleans he had been pastor of the Cathedral from 1785 to 1790 and again from 1795 to the time of his death at the age of 81. For three days after his passing, the body of Pere Antoine was laid out in the Cathedral rectory and thousands came to pay homage. On the day of the funeral, the firing of a cannon announced the beginning of the ceremonies. The coffin was carried on the shoulders of four young men who were surrounded by eight honorary pallbearers, all friends of the deceased.

On January 8, 1840, Andrew Jackson returned to the scene of his triumph against the British twenty-five years earlier. He went to the St. Louis Cathedral where an oration was given in his honor. After this ceremony, he conducted a military review in the Place d'Armes.

After a week of continual entertainment, Jackson returned to the Place d'Armes on January 14 to lay the cornerstone of the monument which the square today. There was the usual parade and a large crowd to watch the proceedings.
Bishop Antoine Blanc, in full pontifical, received the General.

Another joyful occasion in which the Cathedral played a part was the visit in December, 1847, of a hero of the Mexican War, Zachary Taylor, whose victory at Monterey would send him to the White House. After the service, the crowds cheered with joy as the old General rode his battle horse, Old Whitey, through the city to the St. Charles Hotel.

De Poulily's drawing of the facade of the new St. Louis Cathedral. This elevation was designed In July 1847 and became part of the contract with the trustees, March 1849. Design was later slightly modified. (N.O. Notarial Archives)

In 1844, the Baroness Pontalba, through her New Orleans agents, presented to the Council for the First Municipality a project to construct a two-story arcaded facade in front of the old buildings bordering both sides of the Place d'Armes, buildings she had inherited from her father, Don Andres Almonester. Two years later, this remarkable woman again submitted and had approved by the Council elaborate plans, prepared under her personal supervision, which called for remodeling her buildings with arcades similar to those of the Cabildo and Presbytere, and also for extensive improvements to the square itself, to create a bit of Paris for her native city.

These additions so increased the size of the two flanking buildings that something had to be done to the Cathedral to bring it to proper scale. Besides, the church was old, its walls were cracking, and it was too small for the congregation of the growing city.

As far back as 1834 the trustees had consulted with J. N. B. de Pouilly, the French architect. De Pouilly had suggested lengthening the church and adding galleries but he was not very optimistic that even these changes would enlarge the church sufficiently to fit the needs of the growing congregation.

A contract was made on March 12,1849, with an Irish builder, John Patrick Kirwan, "for the restoration of the Cathedral of St. Louis." De Pouilly's original specifications, which became part of the contract, called for a reconstruction that left intact only the lateral walls and the lower part of the front and the flanking hexagonal towers of the old church. But as construction proceeded, it became evident that the side walls, too, would have to be demolished.

During construction, the central clock and bell tower collapsed. This calamitous incident caused damage estimated as high as $20,000. In the months that followed, inspections by experts sought to determine the cause of the collapse, and proposals and counter-proposals between trustees and builder culminated in the trustees ordering Kirwan to quit the job. De Pouilly, the architect, was also dismissed and the trustees employed another architect.

Stavanger Cathedral: A Spiritual Monument for the Ages

Late Viking Age farming and fishing villages had started to abandon their traditional mythological concepts in favor of Christianity as early as the 10 th century AD. The decision to build the new church on top of an older settlement likely met with the approval of the entire community, which would have seen the awe-inspiring structure as a fitting tribute to their newly embraced spiritual belief system.

Throughout its existence, the cathedral has been critically important to the people of Stavanger. When the original wooden church was completely destroyed by fire in 1272, they rebuilt it with stone to make sure the new edifice would last for millennia. The Stavanger Cathedral has been in continuous use for nine centuries, and instead of being torn down it was repurposed from a Catholic to a Protestant house of worship when the city experienced the changes of the Reformation .

The city of Stavanger dates its founding to 1125, choosing that year to represent the time when the church was completed. Their determination to renovate the church to keep it functional is an impressive testament to the cathedral’s ongoing importance to the community.

Top image: Archaeological excavations in the basement levels of Stavanger Cathedral that yielded evidence of an older Viking settlement below the church cellars. Source: Kristine Ødeby / NIKU


Nathan Falde graduated from American Public University in 2010 with a Bachelors Degree in History, and has a long-standing fascination with ancient history, historical mysteries, mythology, astronomy and esoteric topics of all types. He is a full-time freelance writer from. Read More

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