8 Great American Cathedrals

Take a tour across America via Cathedrals. Below are 8 churches that are as equally amazing as they are rich with history. Some are famous and other lesser known.

To view the tour in pictures visit the slideshow that accompanies this article.

San Xavier Mission- Tucson, Arizona

The oldest intact European structure built in Arizona, construction began in 1783 and completed in 1797. The current church dates from when Southern Arizona was part of New Spain, following the Mexican revolution San Xavier was part of Mexico, and then eventually fell into a part of the U.S. with the Gadsden Purchase. The mission is filled with original statuary and mural painting. According to local resident, Fred Young, the statues are all fully clothed as part of the local native Indian moral believes of being fully clothed, as opposed to traditionally catholic statues being in the nude.

The Loretto Chapel – Sante Fe , New Mexico

Work began on the building of the Loretto Chapel in 1873 and completed in 1878. This gothic revival-style chapel was patterned after King Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Home of the Miraculous Staircase, which legend says was constructed or inspired by St. Joseph the Carpenter, was built sometime between 1877 and 1881. It took at least six months to build, and has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support. Loretto Chapel is a now a private museum.

The Cathedral of St. John the Devine- New York, New York

The first cornerstone was laid on December 27, 1892, but plans were in the work for establishing this church in 1873, and completed in 1899 and as of 2008 the Cathedral is still unfinished but, began services in 1899, according to the churches website. The cathedral is a part of the “American Acropolis” a setting on Morningside Heights including the cathedral, Columbia University, Teacher’s College, and St. Luke’s Hospital.

Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France – New Orleans, Louisiana

The site that this church sits on was designated for the church on March 29,1721 and by 1727 New Orleanians were worshipping on the site, but it wasn’t until Christmas Eve 1794 that the cathedral was completed and had its first service. The area that the church sits on, Jackson Square got its name sake from General Jackson, whom laid the first cornerstone of the monument outside the church doors in 1840. The facade that we all see today was not built until 1844. 11 persons, a mixture of reverends, madams, and military persons, are buried beneath the church before it was built and since

*Bonus New Orleans Cathedral

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – New Orleans, Louisiana

This church otherwise known as The International Shrine of St. Jude is the oldest surviving church building in the city. The church was built as burial church for victims of yellow fever, for fear of spreading the disease through the city the people of New Orleans built “The Old Mortuary Chapel” by the St. Louis No. 1 cemetery to receive the bodies of deceased persons in order to proceed with religious ceremonies. After a few abandonments the church rose again and in 1935 an authentic relic of St. Jude, the patron saint of the difficult or apparently impossible cases, was given to the church and was placed in a side niche, and as devotions increased, an new life-size statue of St. Jude was place in a shrine where it remained.

Washington National Cathedral – Washington D.C.

Officially it wasn’t until 1907 that work began on the construction of “a great church for national purposes” a vision of George Washington back in 1791. It wasn’t until 1990 when the church was at completion, but services began in 1912. The church has become a place where presidents and world leaders alike have gathered for services and funerals. This church has many memorable moments including President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1907 speech, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s last sermon, and the cathedral was also host to President Ronald Reagan’s state funeral. With its stately presence on Mount Saint Alban, it towers the local landscape and is full of architectural grandeur including gargoyles and all the classic gothic features.

St. James Cathedral – Chicago, Illinois

Founded in 1834 this church has held an important role in the life and history of Chicago. After being nominated for presidency in 1860, Abraham Lincoln came to pray at St. James, and was even a meeting ground for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civic leaders during 1966. The great Chicago fire in 1871 ruined almost all of the church, leaving only the tower and portions of the outer walls and foundation, but was resurrected and has continued to be a place of prayer and peace-making in the community.

The Old North Church – Boston, Massachusetts

Built in 1723, which makes it the oldest standing church building in Boston. According to the church website, the British King gave the church its silver that was used at services and a bible and one of the most infamous events at The Old North Church was on April 18, 1775, when Robert Newman climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land, this fateful event ignited the American Revolution. In front of the historic building is a statue of Paul Revere himself.

Grace Cathedral – San Francisco, California

Grace Cathedral is the third largest Gothic cathedral in the United States, and dates back to 1849. The current location and building was built from 1927 to 1964. From the moment you open the famed renaissance doors, the cathedral’s beauty is amazing. The 44 English bells in the right high tower, you enter the vast empty space and aisles of a total of 66 colorful stained glass windows. The churches main organ has 7,466 boasting pipes.