Cathedral Named minor Basilica
A major honor was bestowed upon the Cathedral of St.
Augustine this week when it was named a "Minor
Basilica" by Pope Paul VI.
The special title and privileges were added to the
cathedral in response to a request made by Bishop Paul
Tanner during the Bicentennial Year.
The Minorcan settlers of St. Augustine consider it their
The cathedral became the 24th church in the nation to be
so honored. The term "basilica" describes the oblong
building made popular by the Romans as public assembly
and court buildings. The Catholic Church adopted the
style, after the age of persecutions, when the church was
freed from official disfavor.
The Cathedral of St. Augustine was completed in the
year 1797. Built from coquina rock in a style reminiscent
of Baroque, the cathedral housed four bells the largest
probably coming from the ruins of the Nombre de Dios
Chapel erected at the site of the first landing in St.
The historic bells served as constant reminders of the
hallowed traditions in a city which is hailed as the cradle
of Western civilization in the U.S.
The great fire of 1887 seriously damaged the building
but left its walls intact, and most of the structure, except
the chancel wall and roof, have survived to this day.
The reconstruction of 1887 replaced the slate roof with
shingles, but apart from that, the facade of the cathedral
was restored to a condition almost identical to the
The four bells that rang out three times each day lost
their timbre in the blaze, and were silent for years af-
In 1965, the St. Augustine Foundation began restoring
the interior of the cathedral. It was a tribute to the 400th
Anniversary of the church, and is remarkable in the
beauty of its results.
The altar, windows and even the floor were pain-
stakingly restored. The stained glass windows com-
memorate the life of the Oldest City's patron saint.
Upon completion of the recent restoration, the
Cathedral was solemnly dedicated on March 9, 1966. The
ceremony was presided over by His Eminence William
Cardinal Conway, Primate of All Ireland, and was wit-
nessed by bishops and priests from all over the country.
Located on Cathedral Place, downtown, this historic
church is open to visitors of the Oldest City, and donations
for its continual upkeep are graciously accepted.
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Cathedral of St. Augustine Is Impressive-Inside And Out
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