Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph was originally a small adobe church built for the benefit of the settlers as opposed to the native Indians. Construction began in 1803 in the town originally called El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. Earthquakes in 1818 and 1822 damaged the original structure beyond repair, and a second adobe church was built to replace it beginning in 1835. The second church was also damaged by a major earthquake in the 1868 Hayward Earthquake. The third church was built in 1869 only to be destroyed by a fire in 1875. A fourth temporary structure was built a few blocks away. The fifth and final building is the magnificent Basilica that stands today. Construction began in 1876 and the church was finally granted Basilica status by the Vatican in 1997. The stained glass windows alone make this one of the most beautiful places in California. A bold Renaissance Revival church in Downtown San Jose, the cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose in California was consecrated in 1877. This is the fifth St Joseph’s Church, going back to 1803 when it was the site of the first parish in California built for the Spanish population rather than to convert Ohlone Indians. On the Market Street facade is the impressive portico with fluted Corinthian columns and the Deo Optimo Maximo inscription in the frieze. The interior is a marvel for its dome, the coffering on its vaults and the brilliant stained glass depicting saints, the Agony in the Garden, the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension.

In the 12 days before Christmas the basilica hosts the Season of Hope concert series, with important ensembles like the San Jose Symphonic Choir, San Jose Jazz All-Star Big Band and the California Philharmonic Youth Orchestra performing. The original St. Joseph’s Church was called San Jose de Guadalupe built on the site of the current basilica in 1803, and was the first non-mission parish built in California for the benefit of Spanish settlers instead of the Mission Indians (Ohlone). The Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe was connected with Mission Santa Clara by The Alameda which was part of the historic El Camino Real. The original adobe structure was damaged by earthquakes in 1818 and 1822. In 1835, prominent Californio businessman Antonio Suñol donated the land at the northeast corner of the Plaza del Pueblo (modern Plaza de César Chávez) for the construction of a new, larger adobe church. Suñol, alongside his brother-in-law Antonio María Pico (who served as Alcalde of San José at the time), oversaw the construction of the church for the next eight years until its completion and consecration in 1846 In 1842, Suñol petitioned Francisco García Diego y Moreno, the Bishop of the Californias, for proper religious vestments and relics for the church. The second church was severely damaged by the 1868 Hayward earthquake.

Work on the third church began in 1869. The third church was destroyed by fire in 1875, and a temporary fourth church was built a few blocks away while the fifth and current church was being constructed. The fifth church was dedicated by Joseph Alemany, Archbishop of San Francisco, in 1877 while construction continued. The current portico was completed in 1884, and the large dome was finished in 1885. In 1981, a major renovation project was begun at the church, which was to become the cathedral for the new Roman Catholic Bishop of San Jose. In 1985, the church was elevated to a cathedral, pending completion of the restoration in 1990. It replaced Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish, located a few blocks away, as the cathedral of the diocese. The cathedral was made a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1997. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is listed as a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic.

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