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San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas

Dominating the center of Downtown San Antonio is the San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in America. Part of our San Antonio bus tour; discover the history behind the oldest, continuously operating religious community in the state of Texas. 
 
San Fernando Cathedral History 
Originally founded in March of 1731 by families from the Canary Islands, San Fernando served as the church for all of the religious denominations of San Antonio for almost 95 years as the Catholic Church was the only recognized religion of the Spanish and Mexican governments prior to Texas’ independence.  
San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas

Visiting the San Fernando Cathedral

Today the cathedral of San Fernando isn’t just a sanctuary that provides a place for worship, but has become the ecumenical, cultural, civic and service center of San Antonio. Be one of the many visitors that explore the cathedral each year. From the architecture of the building to the incredible artifacts within, uncover the history of the San Fernando Cathedral.
 
Exterior
Standing in the heart of historic, Downtown San Antonio, the San Fernando Cathedral is a mix of Gothic and American Colonial architecture. While its current structure has been greatly expanded and renovated over the years, the walls of the original still form the sanctuary of the cathedral. Built with austere white stone and twin steeples, the San Fernando Cathedral has a commanding presence at first glance.
 
Interior
In traditional French Gothic form, the interior of the San Fernando Cathedral is a feast for the eyes. Admire the statues, intricate detail found in the stained glass windows and dramatic columns and archways. The history of the cathedral is collectively told through icons and objects throughout. 
 
Stained Glass Windows
Glistening through the cathedral, stained glass windows awaken and nourish the mystery of Christ. 
 
The Alamo Coffin
As you enter the San Fernando Cathedral, you’ll find a small, white stone coffin to the left which holds the remains of Jim Bowie and David Crockett who died during the great Battle of the Alamo. Santa Anna is known to have burned the bodies in giant pyres outside the fallen fort after the battle. The ashes were reported to have later been collected and buried at San Fernando Cathedral. 
 
Christo Negro
The renowned Christo Negro or black Christ can be found near the main entrance of the cathedral and is a replica of the Black Christ from Esquipulas, Guatemala. To this day Christo Negro is continuously surrounded by letters, photographs of car crashes survived and love notes addressed to the familiar “Dear Jessie.”
 
The Main Nave and Altar 
At the center of the church you’ll find stone carved Stations of the Cross as well as the carved wooden pulpit, both installed during the late 1800s. Looking down over the cathedral, the pipe organ sits in the choir loft and is the oldest pipe organ in the city of San Antonio. Behind the altar, a stone circle can be found in the floor. Inscribed with a cross, it marks the official center of the city of San Antonio. Other highlights of the main nave include a beautiful painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico and the "Mother of the Americas" and statues of the Black Madonna, symbolic of the statue of the same type brought over by the families from the Canary Islands and St. Anthony, a namesake for the city of San Antonio.

Shopping at Los Padrecitos Gift Shop

Don’t forget to stop by Los Padrecitos Gift Shop. Located in the Cathedral Centre just next door to the Cathedral, you’ll find candles, religious articles, rosaries, city centre souvenirs and much more. Guide books are available for purchase in the gift shop and provide in-depth information about the Cathedral, its artwork and its grounds.