San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio
What closes a church? A festival on the plaza fronting the cathedral. As a close to a week-long celebration in San Antonio, people turned out to enjoy the music and southwestern fare. For the photographer, many opportunities exist for candid pictures. Be respectful. I found a zoom lens, no tripod, and no flash was ideal. Then, after making images, put away the camera and enjoy the festival. It only happens once a year.
The site for the Church of San Fernando was selected on July 2, 1731 and with 12,000 pesos completed in 1755. During the Texas Revolution the church served secular purposes. Mexican cannons stood on its roof during the siege of Bexar. After that battle the Texans flew a flag of victory from it. Antonio López de Santa Anna not only used the church as a lookout but ordered a red flag flown there to signal that the Texans at the Alamo would be shown no mercy. Inside their is a monument to the heroes of the Alamo that were buried supposedly buried there.
In the late 1800's the chruch was redesigned - included a Gothic Revival nave, triple entrance portals, a gable roof, and twin bell towers and buttresses.The new church was consecrated in 1873, with the formation of the Diocese of San Antonio and designated a cathedral. The cathedral underwent another major restoration in the mid-1970s. Repairs were also made in preparation for Pope John Paul II's visit of September 13, 1987. The cathedral is a large and busy parish church and episcopal see, where about 400 baptisms, 70 funerals, and 60 marriages are performed annually. Many services are in Spanish.
The San Fernando Cathedral was built by settlers from the Canary Islands, who came here in 1731 after they were granted land and title by King Philip V of Spain. The cathedral was completed in 1750, and is the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the United States. During the Texas Revolution and the seige of the Alamo, General Santa Ana occupied the church and raised the red flag showing "no quarter" would be given. This is still an active cathedral and was visited by the pope in 1987.
san fernando cathedral was founded in 1731 and is located in the center of downtown san antonio. the present cathedral was built in 1873. a must see site for those interested in history and architecture when in downtown san antonio.
As you enter San Fernando Cathedral, you'll see a plaque on the outside wall stating, "The remains of the Alamo heroes are entombed in the chapel at the left-hand side of the entrance to this cathedral..."
Historians don't know for certain whether this tradition is correct or not. During a construction project, ashes were discovered in a burial site on the grounds. The remains contained bits of uniforms, but those defending the Alamo never wore uniforms. In any event, the tomb seemed to be the final resting place for unknown soldiers.( picture #2)
Whoever is enshrined here is given the respect and appreciation due to those who give their lives while serving their country.
On Christmas morning we hopped into the car and drove to San Fernando Cathedral, erected in 1731 by the families who originally settled here from the Canary Islands.
Preceding the Battle of the Alamo, General Santa Anna flew the flag of 'no quarter' from this church. It signaled he had no intention of taking prisoners. Although it is noted that heroes of the Alamo siege are interred within the walls (Travis, Bowie and Crockett and others) historians disagree concerning the authenticity of this tradition.
We were invited inside, as the mass was concluding. The cathedral is beautiful--its dramatic central altar is composed of 24 carat gold, which features inspirational religious scenes highlighting a crucified Christ.
That morning, sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows and people were hushed in reverence as they filed from the church. As the cathedral emptied, we were pleased to be told that we would have the opportunity to snap some photos.
Please take a look at the additional pictures:
The gold 3-part 'retablo' with Christ crucified (picture 2)
A Creche (picture 3)
Honoring Baby Jesus on Christmas Day (picture 4)
The church mariachi band (picture 5)
A mariachi band played lively music, as people drifted to the front of the church to kiss the feet of baby Jesus, which is a Christmas tradition. San Fernando is home to those of the Mexican Catholic faith.
FYI: The cathedral has a Flamenco mass on Good Friday and the reenacts the Passion of Christ during Holy Week. A massive renovation project was completed in 2003.
The Gothic front of the San Fernando Cathedral was finished as recently as 1868, but much of the original church from 1749 remains as the sanctuary area around the altar. This is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the US and the oldest building in Texas.
This cathedral marks the geographic center of San Antonio, and within its walls are buried some of the defenders who died at the Alamo.
In modern times, this church is dwarfed by the skyscrapers of downtown. in the 18th and 19th centuries, it must have been a prominent building indeed. As the missions gradually declined, this church assumed more importance in the growth of the city. From its towers, the Texans saw the approach of the Mexican army that would lead to the seige at the Alamo. During that seige, the Mexican army would use the cathedral as an observation post. Inside the cathedral, you will find a box that is claimed to hold the remains of the Alamo defenders. Whether or not this is authentic is up for debate. The bodies of the defenders were burned and little is known about what happened to their remains.
This site for the Church of San Fernando was selected on July 2, 1731. Several churches were built before the present one. In 1868, architect F. Giraud started an heavy renovation of the old church, indeed a complete redesign! The original bell tower and part of the nave were razed and he started to build most of what we can see today. Although the second bell tower was not completed until 1902, the new church was consecrated in October 1873. With the formation of the Diocese of San Antonio in 1874, the church was designated a cathedral. The cathedral underwent another major restoration in the mid-1970s. Repairs were also made in preparation for Pope John Paul II's visit of September 13, 1987.
The cornerstone of the church building in the new village was laid in 1738 making it the first parish church in Texas. This cathedral marks the spot selected by colonists sent by King Philip of Spain. It is also the burial site of the heroes of the Alamo.
A group of families emigrated from the Canary Islands to Texas, and founded this cathedral on March 9, 1731. So the Cathedral has recently celebrated its 275th anniversary.