Just at the start of the High Road to Taos (driving from Albuquerque) is El Sagrado Carazon, a New Mexico Catholic church founded as a mission in the early 17th-century. The church was initially destroyed during a revolt in 1680 but has been rebuilt (and destroyed) multiple times. It was destroyed by fire in the early 1900s, but was rebuilt in 1910 and then once more in 1947 in an adobe style with twin buttresses.
Mission San Xavier del Bac is a National Historic Landmark located a few miles south of Tucson, Arizona. Although the mission was founded in 1692, the original church was destroyed by Apache Indians in about 1770. The one above, completed in 1797, is considered one of the best examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the U.S. I visited early one morning and was adopted by a pair of local dogs as I walked up to the top of Grotto Hill which overlooks the church and the O’odham Nation Indian Reservation. Because of its long history, it’s been through both stages of neglect and restoration. Much of the restoration work was performed in the late 20th century after it was included on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar. The interior is intricate, with fine wood work and baroque decorations throughout the chapel and altar areas. A few photos from the visit are below along with a pair from 1870 found in the Library of Congress collection.
Chinle, Arizona is a small town in Navajo Nation not far from Canyon de Chelly and includes Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. Franciscan priests established the first church here in 1905. I don’t think this church building above is very old, but from reading online it has a tabernacle modeled after a Navajo summer home and features a six foot hole in the center of the interior floor to expose the sacred earth.
Due to restrictions on Roman Catholic worship in Virginia in the early days of European settlement, it took some time to establish the church in the state. Most of the early Catholic population settled and built churches in the western part of the state, including in Roanoke.
This Gothic cathedral was built in 1902, replacing a small earlier church building. The large stained glass windows were imported from Germany and the altar marble from Italy. The exterior is brick and sandstone. The last major restoration was in 2014, though it was still partially in scaffolding when I visited in December.
The Basilica of The Immaculate Conception is a Late Victorian Gothic church in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. The first church was built of wood and dedicated in the mid 1800’s. In 1901, the church was one of over 2300 buildings destroyed by the city’s “Great Fire”, though the large statue of Virgin Mary remained in place.
Today’s Basilica was built in 1910 primarily of Kentucky limestone. Stained glass windows imported from Germany also highlighted the new building, which was the tallest in Jacksonville at the time. A more detailed history is included on the church’s website. It’s also included on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican is the formal name of the principal church of the Roman Catholic Church. St. Peter’s Square leads you to the Basilica, and after a security check, the massive Renaissance cathedral is not only a spiritual pilgrimage site, but an architectural wonder as well. I visited during an Easter week, but the crowds were manageable. I didn’t see the Pope at the Vatican, but did make it to the Stations of the Cross held on Good Friday each year outside of the Roman Colosseum – here’s a photo of what it looked like while sitting on a nearby hill.
The Basilica site was chosen on the location it was believed Saint Peter was buried after he was martyred in October 64 A.D. The first Basilica was built in the early 300s, but the replacement you see today was started in 1506 and completed more than a century later. There are several masterpieces of art inside, including Michelangelo’s Pieta. Thanks to an attack with a hammer in 1972, the famous sculpture is now seen through a glass panel.
In addition to the Basilica, the Vatican Museums are a must see, and a visit includes the Sistine Chapel.
I was planning on adding Notre Dame to the blog this week, and then the sad events of this afternoon occurred. Notre Dame (“Our Lady) is in the center of Paris, France and is nearly 900 years old. When I was in the city, I took a few hundred photos from as many areas as I could and left without a doubt of why it’s one of the most visited churches in the world. Despite the destruction from today’s fire, the church fared better than I would have expected and hopefully will be restored over time. The Roman Catholic Cathedral has survived destructive events in the past, including desecration by atheists during the French Revolution and World Wars, so there’s reason to be optimistic. There’s also a lot of history about this church online, so I’ll just add a couple more links if you want to read more.