Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica
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|St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica|
|Location||700 Jefferson St.
|Dedication||Anthony of Padua|
|Dedicated||January 27, 1907|
|Status||Cathedral - Minor Basilica|
|Bishop(s)||Most Rev. Curtis J. Guillory, S.V.D.|
|Rector||Rev. Msgr. Jeremiah J. McGrath|
St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica roots go back to 1853 when the Catholic Church sent priest on horseback to minister to the settlers around the port of Beaumont. In 1879, Bishop Jean Marie Odin, C.M., first bishop of the Diocese of Galveston and Fr. Vital Quinon build St. Louis Church and established the first formal Catholic parish community in Beaumont. St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica is the direct successor to this small limited seating structure and parish community. In 1901, following the Lucas Oil Boom, Bishop Nicholas Gallagher, third bishop of Galveston and Fr. William Lee built a new and larger church to take the place of St. Louise Catholic parish church. Bishop Gallagher changed the name of St. Louise parish community to St. Anthony. The cornerstone of St. Anthony Church was blessed in 1903. In 1907 Bishop Gallagher dedicated this new brick church.
The church building has undergone many changes through the leadership of several Bishops and pastors. The first major interior restoration took place under Bishop Christopher Byrne, of the Diocese of Galveston and Monsignor E. A. Kelly in 1937. Stained-glass windows were installed throughout the church and symbolic oil paintings were added behind the altar. With the inception of the Diocese of Beaumont in 1966, St. Anthony Church was elevated to the rank of a Cathedral by Pope Paul VI and Bishop Vincent Harris was installed as the first Bishop of Beaumont. In 1972 Bishop Warren Boudreaux, second Bishop of Beaumont, and Monsignor M. F. Enderle began the second major renovation of this sacred site in conformity with renewal of the Sacred Liturgy following the Second Vatican Council. A sacrificial altar was introduced facing the people, an appropriate bishop’s chair became a permanent fixture in the sanctuary, the art in the sanctuary and throughout the Cathedral was renewed, the pews were refinished, kneelers replaced, carpeting installed, and new acoustical and lighting systems added. Extensive landscaping to the grounds was introduced, the exterior was renewed, the copper dome restored and a 2,500-pipe Wicks organ installed. Bishop Bernard Ganter, third Bishop of Beaumont and Monsignor Bennie Patillo undertook the building of a new Cathedral center and Chapel-Office Complex that was dedicated in 1991. In 1998, Bishop Joseph A. Galante, fourth Bishop of Beaumont, and Monsignor Jeremiah J. McGrath began extensive repairs of the Cathedral. At the beginning of the third millennium, Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, S.V.D., fifth Bishop of Beaumont and Monsignor McGrath began a major liturgical renovation of the Cathedral. On October 17, 2004 Bishop Guillory re-dedicated and consecrated historic Saint Anthony Cathedral.
On July 11, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the liturgical glory and historical significance of Saint Anthony Cathedral by proclaiming it a Minor Basilica. Following a year-long Diocesan Jubilee Year celebrating the centenary of Saint Anthony Cathedral, the Papal Decree, Papal Ombrellino (Basilica Umbrella) and Papal Tintinnabulum (Basilica Bell) were solemnly installed on October 21, 2007.
Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica’s Papal Ombrellino (Basilica Umbrella) was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on May 23, 2007. This half-opened umbrella is constructed of precious red and golden Belgium silk damask. The heraldic shields of The Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, S.V.D., the Diocese of Beaumont and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Anthony are embroidered on the Papal Ombrellino’s flaps. Referred to by a wide variety of names, such as Ombrellino and basilica pavilion, umbrellas (fully opened) were once used during Papal Processions through the streets of Rome to protect the Pope from the weather. Today the Ombrellino is used as a symbol of a minor basilica’s distinct bond to the Papacy. The Ombrellino stand half-opened in minor basilicas throughout the world as a way of symbolically anticipating the arrival of the Pope at a basilica, his "home away from home."
The Cathedral Basilica’s Papal Tintinnabulum, (Basilica Bell) was also blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on June 28, 2006 and was blessed a second time by the Pontiff on May 23, 2007. This elaborate bell, cast in Padua, Italy, is housed within a beautiful hand-carved gold gilded wooden Italian stanchion (post) that is decorated with the Papal Keys and Tridendum (Papal Crown), common symbols of the Pope and his pastoral ministry. Also decorating this bell stanchion are three lilies that symbolize St. Anthony’s purity, the Gospel Book and flame symbolizing the eloquent preaching of St. Anthony, and four wheat stalks symbolizing the charity of St. Anthony, who fed the poor. A papal bless was once used during Papal Processions in Rome and today is used as a symbol of a minor basilica's definite union with the Pope.
The clergy and faithful of Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica have continually reached out beyond the confines of the Catholic community to embrace all peoples and has been actively involved in vital community affairs, a leader in education, charitable and cultural undertakings, and a torchbearer for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration. The historic legacy of the Cathedral Basilica was recognized by the City of Beaumont in 1975 as a heritage site and in 1981 the State of Texas name it a treasured historical site.
Today this sacred landmark and spiritual center stands by the Neches River in Southeast Texas as a testimony to the enduring faith, spiritual vitality and sacrificial stewardship of not only early Catholic settlers, but also of the ever growing dynamic Catholic community of this region in the United States.
- Castaneda, Carlos Eduado, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas 1519 - 1957, 7 vols [Austin, Texas: Von Boeckmann-Jones Company, 1936 - 1958]
- Cody, John M., History and Symbolism of Saint Anthony Church [Beamont, Texas: Saint Anthony Parish, 1943]
- Giles, Robert C.; researched by Mary Ann Acosta, and Kenny J. Cluse, Changing Time; The Story of the Diocese of Galveston - Houston in Commemoration of its Founding [Houston, Texas: Most Reverend John L. Morkovski, S.T.D. 1977]
- Caperol, Edythe G., History of Saint Anthony's Cathedral and Parish, Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record and Lamar University, Vol. XV [Beaumont, Texas, 1979]
- Vanderholt,James F.; Martinez, Carolyn B.; and Gilman, Karen A., The Diocese of Beaumont: The Catholic Story of Southeast Texas [Beaumont, Texas: The Diocese of Beaumont, 1991]
- Landregan, Steve, Catholic Texans; Our Family Album [Strasbourg,France: Editions du Signe, and Dallas, Texas: The Diocese of Dallas, 2003]