Corpus Christi Cathedral

There’s a stunning little church I’ve passed by on my way downtown hundreds of times; each time making a promise to myself to get close enough to photograph. I’ve found myself with a little bit of spare time, and decided that today is the perfect day to drive down there. I used to call it “the old church”, but I’ve learned that it’s called the Corpus Christi Cathedral.  The cathedral  is located at 505 N.Upper Broadway in downtown Corpus Christi.

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It was a beautiful day out, with a clear blue sky. Here’s the front of the church; the side that I see when driving by.

I’d never pass up an opportunity to learn about the places I admire, so I noted the name and found their website when I got home. Apparently,  the first cathedral was built in 1857 and started as a little adobe building called St. Patrick’s Church. The cathedral as it stands today was built in 1940 after the original structure was destroyed by a fire.

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This is an excerpt about the Cathedral from the St. Patrick’s Church website:

Because of the many early Irish families who had settled in the area, St. Patrick was chosen as the patron saint of the Diocese.  The first two churches that served what is now the Cathedral parish were also named for St. Patrick.  However, after a fire severely damaged the second structure, Bishop Ledvina undertook the building of a new Cathedral church, the same one that stands today rising on the bluff and overlooking downtown Corpus Christi, located on the corner of Lipan and Broadway.  In 1940, the new Cathedral was completed.  During his Ad Limina visit to Rome, while the Cathedral was being constructed, the Holy Father instructed Bishop Ledvina that it was his preference the new Cathedral be named ‘Corpus Christi Cathedral’ rather than ‘St. Patrick’s Cathedral’ and that the next parish to be founded be given the name of St. Patrick.

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I’ve been drawn to bell towers ever since I was little. Upon further inspection (and some zooming-in), the points on each corner around the smaller cross on the right appear to be urns surrounded by four angels.

Back in 1867 the church lost a pastor and several members to yellow fever, and epidemic that rocked the city. This is an excerpt from the cathedral’s history document on their website:

“The last death recorded was that of Fr. Gonnard. His death was mourned by the entire city as a profound loss to the community. He died after weeks of working day and night, not only with his own people, but also with any who needed help. The parish was left without its beloved pastor, many parishioners were dead, and its school was closed. A large number of small children were left as orphans, losing both parents to the “black vomit.”

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I love the cathedral’s architecture. The stained glass windows are beautiful in person. Church was in session and I didn’t want to intrude by getting a closer look.

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From humble beginnings in a small adobe church with only about twenty families to its enrollment of over 1000 families today, the Cathedral parish has been a vital part of the community in good times and bad—wars, epidemics, hurricanes, and depressions. Our church stands today as the beautiful Queen of the Bluff—a living monument to the faithful of the past, today, and those yet to come.
What started as simple admiration for the church’s beauty now doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. I am now infatuated with both the church’s stunning architecture and it’s story. I’ll think of the cathedral and it’s people each time I pass by, my love for it is so much deeper and I’m so happy I took the time out to get familiar with it. And this, my friends, is why it’s important to learn more about your city’s structures and history. You never know what you’ll walk away with! Are there any places in your home town you admire?

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