CATHEDRAL OF SAN FERNANDO
(Church of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe)
The original church of San Fernando was built between 1738 and 1750. The walls of that church today form the sanctuary of the cathedral, which gives rise to its claim as the oldest cathedral in the United States. The church was named for Ferdinand III of Castile, who ruled in the 13th century. The baptismal font, believed to be a gift from Charles III, who became King of Spain from 1759, is the oldest piece of liturgical furnishing in the cathedral. In 1836, the cathedral, still a parish church, played a role in the Battle of the Alamo when Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna hoisted a flag of “no quarter” from the church’s tower, marking the beginning of the siege. In 1868, the cathedral was considerably enlarged in the Gothic style, the addition forming the existing nave. The carved stone Stations of the Cross were added in 1874. The striking stained glass windows were added in 1920. On September 13, 1987, the cathedral was visited by Pope John Paul II, during the only visit of a pope to Texas. A marble stone marker commemorates the event.