The Oldest Church in Florida Has a Fascinating History

The Basilica of St. Augustine, a Catholic cathedral located in the seaside town of St. Augustine, Florida, is the state’s oldest church.

The town of St. Augustine is the earliest continually inhabited European settlement on the North American continent, despite the fact that this fact is not commonly known.

Check out this summary of some fascinating facts about this incredibly old church if you’re interested in churches, history, or the history of churches.

The History of St. Augustine

Many who are acquainted with St. Augustine and its Cathedral compare the two cities’ births—at least in spirit—at the same time. The Spanish made their first trip to the Florida coast in 1565. After moving northward from their Caribbean Sea expansion activities, they arrived on the continent.

On a beach in Southern Florida, a Catholic priest by the name of Padre Lopez de Mendoza Grajales dedicated a cross. In the history of the continental United States, this is regarded as the very first Catholic Mass.

But the Cathedral itself wasn’t actually built until much later. The original building was started in the early eighteenth century. It is believed that the Church was properly constructed between 1793 and 1797.

When the Cathedral became Bishop Augustin Verot’s residence in 1870, it was given the title of basilica. The quantity of holy Catholic relics housed in the church makes it noteworthy. Among these is the finger bone of the church’s namesake, Saint. Augustine of Hippo.

The Cathedral is now recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Many would see it as a title worthy of the long history of the historic church.

The Background of Its Creation

In resistance to the Protestant Reformation, the Kingdom of Spain reverted to a largely Catholic population during the building of the St. Augustine Cathedral. This was a particularly active time in the church’s history.

Sir Francis Drake and his troops actually demolished the earlier building in 1586, which preceded the cathedral’s actual completion. The Spanish and British were often at conflict in a terrain that had not been officially split between the two empires throughout this colonization era.

More accomplished architects built a more appropriate structure in 1605, but it was destroyed by fire by the British in 1702. The cathedral that stands now is the third version of the structure.

The Cathedral’s Architecture

The architecture of St. Augustine Cathedral is a blend of Neoclassical and Spanish mission design elements. The building contains curving bell gables and clay roof tiles, two characteristics of Spanish mission-style architecture. The building’s many triglyph decorations and Doric columns showcase its Neoclassical architectural design.

The church’s use of coquina in its construction is one of its most intriguing design features. Coquina is a sedimentary rock type that forms gradually over millennia as a result of seashells being deposited on the shore.

When this unusual substance is removed from the water and exposed to air, it solidifies. Nonetheless, the material is still sufficiently malleable for masons to deal with it while building. The ancient Spanish building that made up the cathedral burned down in 1887. A portion of the original coquina survived the fire, and the state of Florida rebuilt it. In spite of this, much of the rehabilitation has been done using concrete.

Inside the Cathedral, artwork

Compared to its somewhat subdued façade, the Cathedral’s interior is fairly elaborately ornamented. A picture of Jesus in an ascension rather than nailed to the cross stands in the center of the main hall.

The walls are covered in a variety of oil paintings that represent significant Christian scenes. Additionally, there are side chapels that are decorated with mosaics. A lot of the walls in the Cathedral are painted in a reddish hue.

How Am I Able to Go to St. Augustine?

St. Augustine is situated at 38 Cathedral Place, right in the center of St. Augustine’s historic city. Along Florida’s east coast, the town of St. Augustine is located roughly two hours north of Orlando.

To find out more about the church, there are tours available every day. in addition to engaging in several customary Catholic rituals, such daily mass and candle burning. If you’re considering getting married, St. Augustine is a beautiful location for a Catholic wedding.