St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica under repair

July 6, 2010

For Immediate Release: July 6, 2010
Contact: Jenny Faber, Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica under repair
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston revitalizing Mother Cathedral of Texas

GALVESTON – After 162 years, the Mother Cathedral of Texas is getting a facelift.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is revitalizing St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica, the first Cathedral of Texas, in an effort to make the historic church operational again. Damaged significantly during Hurricane Ike, the Basilica is now experiencing a wave of repairs so that it can eventually be put back into service.

"The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston treasures the Cathedral Basilica and we want to ensure that it is a place where all Catholics are drawn to for prayer and reflection," said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. "We consider it part of our stewardship to protect the Basilica, which is a landmark not only in Galveston but in Texas. With time and additional funding, we will restore it."

During Phase I of this revitalization effort, the church building is being "sealed" with protective paint so that water will no longer deteriorate the exterior walls. The foundation of the Basilica is also being stabilized, so that water will no longer saturate the ground level of the facility. The leaking and damaged roof is being replaced. Some electrical wiring and plumbing – which were damaged during Hurricane Ike and over the years – are being replaced, as well.

The cast-iron statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the top of the Cathedral Basilica will also be cleaned. The lighted statue of "Mary, Star of the Sea" was said to have been a beacon guiding mariners into the port of Galveston. Having weathered many hurricanes, including the Great Storm of 1900, the statue has earned a nickname as "the Protectoress" of Galveston.

Once these first steps of the revitalization are complete, the Archdiocese plans take action to repair the interior of the Cathedral Basilica so that it could be used for special liturgies and hallmark events. The Archdiocese anticipates the first phase of repairs will be completed by the end of 2010 or in the early part of 2011.

About St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
On May 4, 1847, Pope Pius IX named St. Mary's Cathedral as "the mother church" of the newly-established Catholic Diocese of Galveston, then the only diocese in the state of Texas. The church was one of the Galveston landmarks to survive the Great Storm of 1900. In 1968, the Cathedral was named to the National Register of Historic Places. On Aug. 2, 1979, Pope John Paul II elevated the Cathedral to a "Minor Basilica," an honor given to select churches because of their antiquity or historical importance.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serves 1.27 million Catholics in 10 counties. It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 11th largest in the United States.