Cathedral of Chihuahua

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South Transept and Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Diciembre 2007 Pepe y Centro Navidad 007.jpg
South Transept and Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The cathedral during daytime ChihuahuaCathFacade1.jpg
The cathedral during daytime

The Metropolitan Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross, Our Lady of Regla, and St Francis of Assisi is the main ecclesiastical building of the Catholic Church in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. It is considered perhaps the finest example of colonial architecture in northern Mexico [1] and dates from 1725. The cathedral is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chihuahua. As of 2013 the archbishop was Constancio Miranda Weckmann.

The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.


Style and architecture

The building is situated on the Plaza de Armas. It is designed in the Spanish Baroque style, and is in the form of a latin cross, with a dome above the crossing.

The Plaza de Armas is the name for the main square in many Hispanic American cities. In the central region of Mexico this space is known as El Zócalo and in Central America as Parque Central. While some large cities have both a Plaza de Armas and a Plaza Mayor, in most cities those are two names for the same place.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain(Spanish: Reino de España), is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Baroque cultural movement, starting around 1600

The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, music, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It followed the Renaissance style and preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. It was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture, art and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well. The Baroque style used contrast, movement, exuberant detail, deep colour, grandeur and surprise to achieve a sense of awe. The style began at the start of the 17th century in Rome, then spread rapidly to France, northern Italy, Spain and Portugal, then to Austria and southern Germany. By the 1730s, it had evolved into an even more flamboyant style, called rocaille or Rococo, which appeared in France and central Europe until the mid to late 18th century.

The façade is interesting in that it involves the use of solomonic columns which were not widely used in New Spain at the time. It has an octagonal window that was shipped from Germany and is considered a fine specimen of the glassmakers art. In addition, the front contains a collection of monuments celebrating the twelve apostles, with a clock above, crowned with the sculpture of an angel that was added in the 19th century. The royal Spanish coat of arms occupied the area below the angel, but was removed by architect José Félix Maceira in 1874 and the clock, which was acquired in London, was added, giving the façade its present appearance.

Column structural element sustaining the weight of a building

A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. In other words, a column is a compression member. The term column applies especially to a large round support with a capital and a base or pedestal which is made of stone, or appearing to be so. A small wooden or metal support is typically called a post, and supports with a rectangular or other non-round section are usually called piers. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces. Other compression members are often termed "columns" because of the similar stress conditions. Columns are frequently used to support beams or arches on which the upper parts of walls or ceilings rest. In architecture, "column" refers to such a structural element that also has certain proportional and decorative features. A column might also be a decorative element not needed for structural purposes; many columns are "engaged", that is to say form part of a wall.

Octagon shape with eight sides

In geometry, an octagon is an eight-sided polygon or 8-gon.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

The nave is divided from the ambulatories by arches which support the massive ceiling, and has a fine baptistry chapel on the right, or north side, just inside from the narthex. Directly opposite, on the south side, inside the Chapel of Christ of Mapimí, is the tomb of St Peter of Jesus Maldonado, a priest and martyr who was ordained in the Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in El Paso, Texas, and canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2000. The chapel is decorated with an 18th-century retablo, or reredos containing a venerated image of Christ, in which Primitive and Baroque elements are mingled. The chancel contains an unusual double altar, in which a smaller altar of Carrara marble was incorporated into the existing larger one of local quarry stone, after the church was built. The organ in the east gallery was built in 1885 by Hook and Hastings, Op. 1244 (2 manuals, 18 registers), and rebuilt and expanded by E F Walcker & Cie. in 1960. The Hook and Hastings instrument had, in turn, replaced a George Jardine organ that was built in 1837, and rebuilt by Jardine in 1869.

Nave main body of a church

The nave is the central part of a church, stretching from the main entrance or rear wall, to the transepts, or in a church without transepts, to the chancel. When a church contains side aisles, as in a basilica-type building, the strict definition of the term "nave" is restricted to the central aisle. In a broader, more colloquial sense, the nave includes all areas available for the lay worshippers, including the side-aisles and transepts. Either way, the nave is distinct from the area reserved for the choir and clergy.


The narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches consisting of the entrance or lobby area, located at the west end of the nave, opposite the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.

Chapel Religious place of fellowship attached to a larger institution

The term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship that is attached to a larger, often nonreligious institution or that is considered an extension of a primary religious institution. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a college, hospital, palace, prison, funeral home, church, synagogue or mosque, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building, sometimes with its own grounds. Chapel has also referred to independent or nonconformist places of worship in Great Britain—outside the established church.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, of baroque and rococo design, is reached by a door in the south side of the nave. The sculpture above the entrance depicts Our Lady of Regla and her supplicants, Ss Francis of Assisi and Rita of Cascia, the patrons of the city, above the Hebrews Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace (see illustration below). The Sacred Art Museum is located in the crypt, adjacent to the tombs of the past prelates of the archdiocese. It displays a collection of paintings by such known Colonial-era artists as Miguel Cabrera, José de Alcíbar, José de Páez and Antonio de Torres; portraits of Pope John Paul II and the prelates of Chihuahua are represented as well. The throne that the Pope used during his 1990 Mass in Chihuahua and the large and ornate former archbishops cathedra and canopy are on display, as are contemporary paintings of the cathedral and several life-sized statues of the saints, some of which are two centuries old.

Blessed Sacrament devotional name for the body and blood of Christ

The Blessed Sacrament, also Most Blessed Sacrament, is a devotional name used in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, as well as in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, and the Old Catholic Church, as well as in some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to refer to the body and blood of Christ in the form of consecrated sacramental bread and wine at a celebration of the Eucharist. In the Byzantine Rite, the terms Holy Gifts and Divine Mysteries are used to refer to the consecrated elements. Christians in these traditions believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic elements of the bread and wine and some of them, therefore, practice Eucharistic reservation and adoration. This belief is based on interpretations of both scripture and sacred tradition. The Catholic understanding has been defined by numerous ecumenical councils, including the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, which is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Rococo 18th-century artistic movement and style

Rococo, less commonly roccoco, or "Late Baroque", is a highly ornamental and theatrical style of decoration which combines asymmetry, scrolling curves, gilding, white and pastel colors, sculpted molding, and trompe l'oeil frescoes to create the illusions of surprise, motion and drama. It first appeared in France and Italy in the 1730s and spread to Central Europe in the 1750s and 1760s. It is often described as the final expression of the Baroque movement.

Francis of Assisi Catholic saint and founder of the Franciscan Order

Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco, was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.


The nave and chancel of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Chihuahua CatedralChihuahua.jpg
The nave and chancel of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Chihuahua

Originally, Sergeant-Major Don Juan Antonio Trasviña y Retes, one of the leading Spanish citizens of the village, donated the land for the first church in the villa, where the cathedral would later stand.

Don, abbreviated as D., is an honorific prefix primarily used in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines.

The first stone was placed on 21 June 1725 by the Bishop of Nueva Vizcaya in Durango, Don Benito Crespo y Monroy (in those times, Chihuahua depended religiously upon, and was a part of, the Diocese of Durango.) The church was paid for with local commercial donations and by mine owners in the city and in Santa Eulalia, a pueblo to the east, and also by a tax of one real on each mark of silver that was mined in the province.

The Plaza de Armas and Cathedral, c.1874. CathPlazaChih1.jpg
The Plaza de Armas and Cathedral, c.1874.

The first superintendent of construction was Pedro Coronado, followed by Miguel de la Sierra and then Master Architect José de la Cruz, who finalised the plans, and was buried in the church upon his death in 1734. Others followed until Architect Bernardo del Carpio began the construction of the towers in 1758. The bells had been cast in 1730, and were placed in the newly completed towers in 1780, directed by Superintendent Melchor Guaspe.

Construction of the church was completed in 1826. The building was slightly damaged during the French intervention in Mexico, repaired, and was designated a cathedral on 23 June 1891, with the erection of the Chihuahua diocese from the Diocese of Durango. At that time, the new diocese was responsible for the faithful throughout the entire state. Chihuahua was elevated to the status of an archdiocese on 22 November 1958 and now is the metropolitan archdiocese for five suffragan dioceses in the state of Chihuahua.

In 1910, with the commemoration of the Century of the Independence of Mexico, the cathedral was decorated with lights. It wasn't until 2005 when the cathedral was illuminated again, this time permanently. In October 2008 celebrating the upcoming Tricentennary of the city of Chihuahua, a lights display show took place at the Cathedral.

Other photographs


  1. AAA 2007 Mexico Tourbook, p. 166, AAA Publishing, Heathrow, FL

Coordinates: 28°38′09″N106°04′38″W / 28.6358°N 106.0773°W / 28.6358; -106.0773

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