10 of the Most Fascinating Cathedrals in the United States

St. Patrick’s Cathedral– New York, NY

Construction on St. Patrick’s Cathedral began in 1858, was briefly interrupted when the American Civil War broke out, and was finally completed in 1878.  Facing Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has held Requiem masses over the years for well known people such as Robert F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Andy Warhol, and Joe DiMaggio.

St. Louis Cathedral– New Orleans, LA

Saint Louis Cathedral, located in the center of New Orleans french quarter at Jackson Square is famous for being the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States.  The church, known for it’s spanish colonial style began construction in 1789.  It however, was not the first church on the current site, as the first was constructed in 1718.  The current cathedral reached it’s current look after final construction was completed in 1850.  In 1987, Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral.

Washington National Cathedral– Washington, D.C.

This massive Episcopalian structure holds the distinction of being the 2nd largest cathedral in the United States, the 4th tallest structure in D.C., and the 6th largest cathedral in the world.  Construction began in 1907 and was completed by 1912.  The cathedral has been the center point of major events over the years, especially those dealing with political figures.  The site has served many times for prayer services after presidential inaugurations and also served states funerals for presidents including Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower, and Woodrow Wilson, who was also interred here.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross- Boston, Massachusetts

Built in Gothic Revival Style, the Cathedral of the Holy cross finished construction in 1875.  It stands as the largest church in the New England region of the United States.  Today, the church functions as the center of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Cathedral Basilica of Peter and Paul– Philadelphia, PA

Constructed between 1846 and 1864, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and Paul can hold up to 2,000 visitors.  It’s unique revival Roman-Corinthian style echoes that of the San Carlo al Corso cathedral in Rome.  A crypt is located under the main alter where most of the bishops and arch-bishops of Philadelphia are buried.

Cathedral of San Fernando– San Antonio, Texas

The Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio, constructed between 1738 and 1750, played a pivotal role in the Battle of the Alamo as Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana hoisted the a flag of “no quarter” from the cathedral’s tower, thus officially marking the beginning of the siege.  Famed American frontiersman Davy Crockett is burried in the cathedral.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine- New York, NY

Saint John the Divine Cathedral is nicknamed, “St. John the Unfinished” as it’s original plans for construction were never completed.  The cathedral has undergone drastic changes over the years.  Construction began in 1892.  In 2001, a fire broke out and the church was eventually reopened in 2008 after major restorations.  Despite remaining unfinished, the church is the 4th largest christian church in the world.

Holy Name Cathedral– Chicago, IL

Built in 1874, Holy name cathedral in Chicago espouses gothic revival style.  The cathedral was heavily damaged in the Great Chicago fire of 1871.  It was freshly re-constructed in 1874.

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart– Newark, New Jersey

Construction on the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart began in 1899, but was not finished until 1954 after drastic design changes.  The cathedral’s status was elevated to Basilica in 1995 upon a visit by Pope John Paul II.

Grace Cathedral– San Francisco, CA

This famous San Francisco Episcopalian cathedral, constructed in 1928 contains a labyrinth that is said to put visitors in a meditative state.  It’s impressive Ghiberti doors are replicas of the doors of the Florence Baptistry in Italy.


3 thoughts on “10 of the Most Fascinating Cathedrals in the United States

  1. Dennis Madden

    The Cathedral of St. Paul in Saint Paul, MN is one of the best kept architectural secrets in the world. Positioned on a hill overlooking downtown Saint Paul, it’s graceful French Rennaisance architecture rises gloriously above the city skyline. Also, just down John Ireland Boulevard is another Rennaisance gem, the Minnesota State Capital building. It has been said that if these two buildings were in the skyline of any city in Europe, they would be world famous.


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