San Fernando Cathedral is also known as Our Lady of Candelaria Cathedral, and Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic Church cathedral situated in downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA, facing Main Plaza in the town. It is the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s mother church, and its archbishop’s office. It was founded in 1731 and is the state of Texas’ oldest, continuously operating religious group. The Cathedral Building has the added distinction of being Texas’ oldest standing church building, and serving the people of the Archdiocese and San Antonio for all its more than 281 years.
The fifty-five immigrants and the presidial families attended services in the presidial chapel or in the mission of San Antonio de Valero prior to and during the building of the town’s parish church. While the evidence is inconsistent, the cornerstone was most likely laid on May 11, 1738, for the first attempt to construct a stone church. In 1748 a donation of 12,000 pesos was authorised by the viceroy to complete the Church. With funds raised, two artisans were hired to begin the project from San Luis Potosí, Gerónimo de Ibarra (a master stonemason) and Felipe de Santiago (a stonecutter). Ibarra razed the earlier structure and broadened the building’s dimensions. The church was completed in 1755. In addition to the official patron saint of the city, San Fernando, or King Fernando III of Spain, who was canonized in 1671, the congregation selected Our Lady of Candlemas and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe as patron saints.
San Fernando Cathedral is a legacy of the first 15 families from the Canary Islands who settled San Antonio and founded the church, originally named Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe. Commonly referred to as La Morenita, “the brunette,” Virgin of Candelaria is portrayed there as a Black Madonna. It was officially named after San Fernando, when construction was completed. He was a Spanish king of the 13th century who is widely attributed to peaceful coexistence throughout the Spanish empire between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. In 1671 King Ferdinand was canonised. Although the cornerstone for the original church was laid in 1738, today’s Gothic Revival landmark is the result of a major restoration project under the direction of architect Francois Giraud in 1868. He was later to become San Antonio’s mayor. The Parish of San Fernando was the only known parish in the region for decades before Texas independence. General Santa Ana used the church as a lookout during Bexar’s siege, and raised a red flag signalling “no mercy” to the Texans.
A crypt in the Cathedral of San Fernando holds the remains of the Alamo heroes, based on Juan N. Seguin’s 1889 account from his deathbed. Many scholars dispute this claim, including the Texas State Historical Association. In 1936, however, bones were found at the altar of San Fernando Cathedral, while building crews were making renovations, according to an article by Texas A&M University. These are the remains that are put in the grave.
The Cathedral of San Fernando holds more than 900 baptisms, 10 funerals and 10 weddings annually. When Pope John Paul II enjoyed a day in San Antonio in 1987, he prayed at the Cathedral Altar with Archbishop Flores. Pope John Paul II’s statue depicts his visit to San Antonio and miniature models are sold at the gift shop.
A 24-minute movie about San Antonio’s origins plays on the exterior of the Cathedral of San Fernando. Screen times are 9:30am, 9:30am and 10 pm. For at least the next 10 years, on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.It is one of San Antonio’s only tourist spots, with a 5-star ranking on Yelp.The Church is available to visitors from 6 a.m. to around 6 P.M. Service is held in Spanish and English during the week, and you can watch online recordings of Sunday masses. From an Alamo defender’s wedding to a Pope’s visit, this cathedral, one of the oldest in the United States, towers with tradition and legend at the heart of the city centre.
This historical attraction is located in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, along with these other must-see attractions for you to check out:
The San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park & Mission Trail
Natural Bridge Caverns
Pearl District and Farmers Market
Historic Market Square (El Mercado)
Japanese Tea Garden
San Antonio Museum of Art
And after your visit make sure to stop by the best CBD Store in Helotes, Mary Jane’s CBD Dispensary, on Bandera Road!