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The Beautiful Galveston Catholic Church – St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica

Some churches have plain names—Our Lady of Worship, St. Andrew’s, Grace of God—while others are more flowery, such as Our Lady of the Immaculate Consumption, or All Saint’s Catholic Newman Center. In the case of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, the elaborate name is well earned, as it reflects its intricate woodwork, gorgeous ceiling paintings, and grandness of stature.

Of course, the name is also entirely accurate. Dedicated to St. Mary, the church is the main church in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, earning it the title of cathedral. In 1979, honoring the Galveston Catholic Church’s impact on the community and its historical significance to Catholicism in Texas, Pope John Paul II granted it the esteemed status of minor basilica.

History

Father J. Odin, appointed Vice-Prefect of Texas, set on establishing a community of Catholics in 1841. The priest earned enough money to begin construction of a wooden-framed Catholic Church in Galveston thanks to several notable residents, including Colonel Menard, who is considered as one of Galveston’s founders. This first version of the church was completed in 1842.

After being raised to Bishop, J. Odin purchased the materials in 1845 for a permanent church. The cathedral opened in 1848. It retained its standing as the cathedral of the diocese even after the growth of Houston required that city to have its own cathedral, with it and Sacred Heart Church in Houston related as “Co-Cathedrals.”

While St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is noted as one of the few buildings that survived the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, it did not fare so well in Hurricane Ike in 2008. Work on restoration quickly began following the storm, and the cathedral re-opened in 2014.

Why Go?

If you are a Catholic, you already have plenty of places of worship to choose from in Galveston, but we must recommend you visit St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica. It is one of the oldest churches in the state, with a design that one no longer finds. Its beauty not only conveys the presence of God, but also the devotion of His followers. The cardinal himself often gives Easter Mass here.

If you aren’t Catholic, or even if you aren’t Christian, we still recommend you visit this Catholic Church in Galveston sometime. Churches often display the pinnacle of a time’s architectural ambitions, and St. Mary’s is no exception. The details in the woodwork, the fabulous stained glass, and ceiling paintings are all as beautiful as anything you’d see in a museum.

Getting to the Great Catholic Church of Galveston

St. Mary’s Basilica Cathedral is located on the south side of Church Street between 20th Street and Moody Avenue, with parking accessible off of 20th street.

Some churches have plain names—Our Lady of Worship, St. Andrew’s, Grace of God—while others are more flowery, such as Our Lady of the Immaculate Consumption, or All Saint’s Catholic Newman Center. In the case of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, the elaborate name is well earned, as it reflects its intricate woodwork, gorgeous ceiling paintings, and grandness of stature.

Of course, the name is also entirely accurate. Dedicated to St. Mary, the church is the main church in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, earning it the title of cathedral. In 1979, honoring the Galveston Catholic Church’s impact on the community and its historical significance to Catholicism in Texas, Pope John Paul II granted it the esteemed status of minor basilica.