San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 12
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SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.
Texas owes so much, not to mention the many other historical associations that
its walls embody. Many particulars and details of the foundation and earlier
history of this Church and the Mission will be found in Sidney Lanier's histori-
cal sketch. These notes are intended in part to supplement and fit into his ex-
The Cathedral of San Fernando.
This structure, once merely a Parish Church, now a Cathedral (the first Bishop
of San Antonio was installed here Christmas eve, 1874), is a mixture of the old
and new regimes. All that is left of the old building is the rear part, easily dis-
tinguished by its marked Moorish characteristics, its dome and massive walls and
octagonal design. The first Parish Church seems to have been built by
subscription and the " subject of the construction was first considered in the Royal
Presidio of San Antonio de Bexar, February 17th, 1738.* Don Prudencio de
Orobio Basterra being Governor and Captain-General of the Spanish State of
Texas, and Don Juan Rezio de Leon being Curate, Vicar and Ecclesiastical Justice
of the town of San Fernando (without the Presidio of San Antonio), and it was
resolved that this Parish Church should be erected under the invocation of the
Virgin and our Lady of Guadalupe." Many Spanish names which appear in the
original list of contributors are names well known in the present day, held by
descendants. This old Church stood upon much the same ground as the modern
structure does, that is, midway between the two Plazas, the Main and the Mili-
tary. It bore, however, a nearer relation to the Military Plaza and its habitants
than to the other, for it was here mostly that Spain's soldier-guardians of her
border colonies dwelt, and it was for their use, more especially, that the Church
The corner stone of the new structure was laid on September 27th, 18S8.
The old main dome was destroyed April 29th, 1872, and the new walls went up
outside the old, so that the Church was only for a short time in disuse. July 3d,
1873, the old front was torn down. F. Giraud, who was Mayor of Saft Antonio
at the opening, October 6th, 1873, had furnished the architect's plans and speci-
fications. It was the intention of the architect to have two similar towers, yet
only one was partially completed. These towers were to have additional struc-
tures of wood surmounting the masonry, twenty-five feet above the summit of th'e
tower now erected. In this tower are several bells that chime out morning, noon
and evening, telling to all the city the time of day. Daily services are held,
the Sunday morning congregation is, as a rule, large, and then the music is good
and well worth hearing. The Church is open all day and under the care of a
sacristan. There is an old and interesting font and several large pictures and
other notable decorations. The present Bishop is San Antonio's second - the
Right Reverend J. C. Neraz.
* Another authority says that the foundation stone of this old Church was laid May 13th, 1734.
-(San Antonio Herald, July 17th, 1872,
t There was formnierly mention existing in the church records of a still older church building on a different
site, at about No. 500oo North Laredo street; all tracesof this foundation have entirely disappeared. It was the
origin of the old San Fernando Parish Church, and in a measnre the building of the latter was probably a re-
mioval merely from the Iaredo street site.
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Corner, William. San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, book, 1890; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143549/m1/28/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.