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The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
In 1786, shortly after the retaking of Florida from the British, the Spanish Crown decreed that a new parish church should be built in the growing young town of Saint Augustine. The result was the imposing structure which was completed in 1797 and today faces the Plaza de Constitucion in the oldest part of the city.
Since 1870, it has served as the seat of the Catholic Bishop of St. Augustine. In 1887, a fire spread to the church from a neighboring hotel causing considerable damage. After a nation-wide fund raising campaign, the cathedral was not only repaired by enlarged and the stately bell tower was added.
In the plaza / garden on the St. George Street side of the cathedral is a sculpture I found engaging. It depicts, and is dedicated to, the Minorcans who settled the region.
The cathedral is known as "America's First Parish."
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Cathedral of the town
The Cathedral and basilica are great to view and the history is equally fascinating. The history is that a Catholic church was built in 1586 and burned the next year by Englishman Sir Francis Drake. Another was built, and it also was burned in 1702 when the CArolina Governor James Moore attacked. With the migration of Catholics to the area for service and expert construction work, CAtholicism again made a rise, and a church was built in 1793. This is that church
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Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
The Cathedral Basilica in downtown St Augustine was constructed from 1793 to 1797, with the tall bell tower added later in 1888. This is the fourth church structure of this parish, with the first three survived 1565 to 1586, 1586 to 1599, and 1605 to 1702. The first and third buildings were destroyed during British attacks, while the second was consumed in a fire. Because this church's first structure was built when St. Augustine was founded, the Cathedral Basilica calls itself "The First Parish."
This landmark building with its distinctive octagonal bell tower with a square base can be seen from all over town and in the Castillo. One of the cathedral's four bells in believed to be the oldest bell in the United States, as it dates from one of the earlier church buildings. The grounds around the church contain numerous statues including one of Father Pedro Camps, a Minorcan friar who helped maintain the Catholic church during the first British occupation of the town in the 1700s. The front of the church faces south to the Constitutional Plaza and the old market.
A plaque at the Cathedral reads:
CATHEDRAL OF ST. AUGUSTINE
The parish of St. Augustine, which dates from the celebration of a mass on September 8, 1565, by the Spaniard Pedro Menedez and his men, is the oldest Catholic parish within the present day United States. During Queen Anne's War, the English Governor of South Carolina, James Moore, raided St. Augustine and destroyed an earlier church. Plagued by financial difficulties, the parish was unable to construct a new church until this coquina edifice was begun in 1793. Completed in 1797, it became a cathedral in 1870 when St. Augustine was elevated to a diocese. Augustin Verot was invested as the first bishop. In 1887, fire severely damaged the cathedral, but the facade and walls remained standing and were preserved when the building was restored in 1887-1888. The chancel, transcept and campanile were added at that time. Further restoration was carried out in 1965.
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So take a moment to peek your head into the church. It has great stain glass windows that are worth a picture. There is also some other things worth looking at, so pop in and check it out.
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CATHEDRAL of ST AUGUSTINE...
CATHEDRAL of ST AUGUSTINE (built in 1790) is the oldest Catholic parish in the USA. In fact, St Augustine is full of interesting churches that all have historical context. You could fashion an entire days sightseeing tour with churches as the central theme.
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