The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, home to the nation’s first Catholic parish, stands where it has since first built in 1797, then rebuilt after a fire in 1887. Its imposing presence on the Plaza de la Constitucion are a reminder of resilience in the ancient city, named for Saint Augustine of Hippo, on whose feast day, August 28, 1565, land was first sighted by Pedro Menendez de Aviles.
The Cathedral’s 18th century Spanish Renaissance architecture includes a six-story bell tower that was added with help from Henry Flagler in the 19th century, after the church was gutted by fire. Fortunately, the coquina blocks and cement masonry of the exterior were salvaged. James Renwick, Jr., architect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, oversaw the renovations which included exposing decorated timbers and Spanish mission features such as curving bell gables, clay tile roofs, prominent statuary niche and unadorned walls.
If you visit the Cathedral, be sure to make note of these beautiful features:
- the deep red ceiling and decorated cross beams
- gold-leaf lindenwood statues
- the custom-built pipe organ
- the stories of missionaries and Native Americans, the first Mass and the arrival of the Minorcans depicted in the murals
- the stained glass windows that depict the life of Saint Augustine of Hippo
There is so much more to see in the beautiful details, you’ll want to visit again and again to appreciate it all. Here, in this historic cathedral, you will always be welcomed.