Cathedral of Saint Mary in Austin

Edit profile
Cathedral of Saint Mary in Austin
Saint Mary's Cathedral is the seat of the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin, Texas in the United States. The origins of this church date back to the 1850s, when the Catholic community in Austin, Texas (then the new state's temporary capital with a population of around 600) built a small stone church named St. Patrick's on the corner of 9th and Brazos streets. In 1866 the church was renamed Saint Mary's, and the parish decided they needed a new church and could afford masonry construction. In 1872, after Austin was made the permanent capital of the state, the parish laid the cornerstone for a new church, choosing a location one block north of the original building. The parish had laid out a basilica-shaped foundation and begun raising the walls, which were five feet high when the architect Nicholas J. Clayton began to design their new church. Eventually to become the foremost Victorian architect in Texas, Clayton had never designed a church and Saint Mary's was his first independent commission. Born in Ireland in 1840, Clayton learned masonry and building design in Cincinnati, and came to Galveston in 1872 on behalf of his Ohio firm. At the time, Austin was part of the Diocese of Galveston, and it may have been through the Holy Cross fathers that the bishop connected Nicholas Clayton with the first Catholic parish in Austin. This church began Clayton's long, prolific career centered in Galveston, building primarily ecclesiastical structures but also commercial buildings and homes. Originally this parish belonged to the diocese of Galveston. When the new Diocese of Austin was formed in 1948, this became the church from which the new bishop would preside. Because the bishop is the successor to the apostles, sent to preach the gospel, his church is called a cathedral from the Latin word "cathedra", the chair from which he presides. At that time, the church was remodeled, many of its neo-Gothic decorations were removed, and the neo-Gothic altars and altar rail were replaced with 20th century marble and the baldachino with its cactus and bluebonnets, evocative of central Texas. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 2, 1973.