Christianity is the most prevalent religion in the United States, with nearly 75% of American adults professing the Christian faith. More than 68 million of these Christians are devout Catholics who gather each Sunday at their local church to celebrate Sunday Mass. Many of these churches have become historic sites throughout their long history in America, and today we explore 8 of the most historic Catholic churches in the United States.
1) Die Kathedrale von St. Louis: St. Louis, Missouri
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis was completed in 1914 and built to replace the former St. Louis. The cathedral currently serves as the seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but remains best known for its collection of mosaics. With more than 41.5 million individual glass stones, the cathedral is the largest collection of mosaics in the world outside of Russia. These mosaics were first installed in 1912 and finally completed in 1988. Although most of them depict biblical scenes, some of the artwork in the cathedral is dedicated to the life of King Louis IX. Dedicated by France, after which the church is named.
In addition to its mosaics, the cathedral is also home to a famous crypt that currently houses three former cardinals andThe Angel of HarmonySculpture installed in 1999. The sculpture, depicting a winged angel with three children, was intended to be a symbol of racial harmony.
2) St. Fernando-Kathedrale: St. fernando, texas
Built between 1738 and 1750, the Cathedral of San Fernando (also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe) is one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. Originally built by settlers from the Canary Islands, the cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of the islands.
In addition to being the oldest cathedral in Texas, the Cathedral of San Fernando was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1987 during the first and only papal visit to the state of Texas. This distinction has allowed the cathedral to join an elite group of churches visited by popes since 1965.
3) Catholic Church of the Most Pure Heart of Mary: Mobile, Alabama
Founded in 1899, Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church was established to minister to the African-American population of Mobile during the Jim Crow era. It was historically cared for by the Sociedade de São José do Sagrado Coração, which also founded the Colégio do Puríssimo Coração de Maria in 1901. This school is still in operation today.
However, the church is best known for its involvement in the civil rights movement. Both priests and nuns participated in several boycotts and demonstrations during the movement to show their support for Mobile's African American community. It also served as a meeting house for the Neighborhood Organized Workers Group. Today, the church continues to be overseen by the Josephan brothers and emphasizes its African-American heritage.
4) Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Washington, D.C.
Dedicated in 1959, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception holds many distinctions: the basilica is not only the largest Catholic church in North America, but also the tallest habitable building in Washington D.C. and the eighth largest religious structure in the world. Construction on the massive cathedral began in 1920, but it wasn't really completed until 2017. With 70 chapels, several mosaics and a crypt, it's one of the most ornate Catholic sites in the country.
Although the basilica does not have its own parish, it serves the Catholic University of America and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It also hosts trade shows for many organizations. It also houses the world's largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art.
5) Dombasilika von St. Augustine: St. Augustine, Florida
The parish records for Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, the oldest parish in the contiguous United States, date back to 1594. However, the parish itself was founded in 1565. The first church was built quickly in the 1560s, but later was completely burned in 1586 in an attack by the Englishman Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish settlement. A second cathedral was later rebuilt, but it too burned down in 1599.
Altogether, the cathedral was built four times and reformed once, with only the last construction being made with refractory material. The current cathedral was built in coquina stone, a type of sedimentary rock composed mainly of small pieces of shell. This last construction of the cathedral was built in the 19th centuryºIt dates back to the 19th century and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Today, the congregation continues to hold regular services.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine. reprint from por Summer Bozeman, cortesia do Florida Photographic Archives (p. 12, Arcadia Publishing, 2009).
6) Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of San Juan Bautista: San Juan, Porto Rico
The oldest cathedral in the United States, Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista (or Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Batista) is located in historic Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Originally built in 1521, the cathedral has since burned down, but has been under construction (and standing) since 1540.
In addition to its age, the cathedral is known for housing the tomb of Juan Ponce de León, a prominent Spanish explorer and founder of the first European settlement on the island. It also contains a well-known shrine to Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago, the first Caribbean-born layman to be beatified by the Catholic Church, and the wax-covered, mummified remains of Saint Pius, a first-century martyr. This makes the cathedral an important pilgrimage site for those in Puerto Rico and America.
7) Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Boston, Massachusetts
Originally founded by priests of the Most Holy Redeemer (or "Redeemers"), the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is located in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. It was originally built in 1870, but was refurbished into a larger building beginning in 1874 and opened in 1878.
However, the basilica gained fame after a replica of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was placed over the church's altar in 1871. the original 15ºThe icon of the century shows the Virgin Mary and comes from the Byzantine Empire. After the replica was installed in the basilica, reports of miraculous healings were reported and attributed to the mediation of the Virgin Mary. Her intercessions were widely publicized and hundreds began to visit the icon in hopes of healing.
Because of these numerous healings, the shrine has held a weekly blessing for the sick since 1874. The basilica has also played host to several important events, including the funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy.
8) St Patrick's Cathedral: New York, New York
One of the other respected American churches that receives papal visits is St. Patrick, seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York. It was first built in 1858 and opened in 1879 after a lull in construction during the Civil War. Built in a distinctive neo-Gothic style, the cathedral is considered one of the greatest symbols of Catholicism in New York City.
Because of its status in New York City (and indeed for most American Catholics), St. Patrick's has been visited by four popes since the mid-1920s.ºCentury: Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI. and Pope Francis. The cathedral is also known for its two pipe organs and large collection of stained glass. It was last renovated between 2012 and 2015.