The Catedral stands on the southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas, also known as the Plaza Principal. In this posting we'll first take a look at the Baroque decoration of the exterior. Then I'll show you the interior, which was remodelled in the Neo-classic style in the late 19th Century. Of San Luis Potosí's many architectural jewels, I found this church to be the most outstanding.
Solomonic columns on each of the three levels of the steeple. Between 1670 and 1701, construction was delayed repeatedly. In 1701, master architect Nicolás Sánchez took over direction, but work still proceeded slowly. The church would not be officially blessed until 1730. At that time, there was only one steeple, the south bell tower you see above. The north steeple was not added until 180 years later, in 1910, to celebrate the Centennial of the War of Independence. The second steeple exactly copied the design of the first, except for the grey stone the architects used.
Pope Pius IX's elevation of the church to cathedral status in 1854. By this act, it became the headquarters of the diocese and the seat of the Bishop of San Luis Potosí.
Retablos are tall structures, often made of intricately carved wood, which contain niches for statues or paintings. They are usually found behind altars, but Baroque churches sometimes use the retablo format for the facade of a whole church, as in this case. There are a total of twelve niches on the two levels of the main facade. Each niche contains a statue of one of the Twelve Apostles. The two statues facing outward on the bottom level are each framed by two spiralling Solomonic columns, another typically Baroque feature.
The interior of the Catedral
San Sebastian (256 AD - 288 AD) was born in Gaul and became a captain of the Praetorian Guard, Emperor Diocletian's bodyguard. After he converted to Christianity, Sebastian refused to make sacrifices to the Emperor, who was considered a god. This resulted in his arrest. He converted his jailor, who promptly released him. However, on the Emperor's orders, he was re-arrested, tied to a stake, and archers shot him full arrows. After a woman named Irene retrieved his body, she discovered he was still alive and nursed him back to health. During his recovery, Sebastian began to perform miracles. Finally back on his feet, he denounced Diocletian as the Emperor was passing in a procession. Determined to finish the job, Diocletian ordered Sebastian clubbed to death and his body thrown in a privy. This second martyrdom proved more successful than the first. San Sebastian is the patron of soldiers, those afflicted with plague and--ironically--archers.
Virgin of the Expectation. She represents Mary while pregnant with Jesus.
Louis IX of France (1214 AD -1270 AD) was a French king sainted because of his exceptionally pious and just reign. It seemed strange to me, at first, that a Spanish colonial church would have as its patron saint a French king. However, it should be remembered that the Catholic Church has always been an international institution. That is not to say that the Church doesn't take on certain characteristics of the nations in which it is established. Even so, saints from any number of lands might be venerated in the churches of a particular country.
Doctors of the Church in the triangular panels at the corners of the dome. They are St. Gregory the Great, St.Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome. In their own times, they were each great scholars who had a large impact on Catholic theology. Their work earned the name Doctors of the Church.