St. James's Cathedral, Riga

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St. James' Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint James the Greater
Latvia Riga St.Jacob church.jpg
The tower of St. James's Cathedral
St. James' Cathedral is located in Riga
St. James' Cathedral
St. James' Cathedral
56°57′3″N 24°6′17″E / 56.95083°N 24.10472°E / 56.95083; 24.10472Coordinates: 56°57′3″N 24°6′17″E / 56.95083°N 24.10472°E / 56.95083; 24.10472
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous denominationLutheran
WebsiteCathedral Website
ArchbishopZbigņevs Stankevičs
This article is about the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Riga. See other articles for the Lutheran cathedral and the Orthodox cathedral.

St. James's Cathedral (Latvian: Svētā Jēkaba katedrāle, German: Jakobskirche) is the Roman Catholic cathedral of Riga in Latvia. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint James the Greater. The building is part of the Old Riga UNESCO World Heritage Site and lies directly opposite the House of the Livonian Noble Corporation, the meeting place of Latvia's parliament the Saeima.

The church is sometimes misleadingly called St. Jacob's. The confusion arises because English, unlike almost every other language, uses different names for the Old Testament name Jacob and the New Testament name James.


The church building was dedicated in 1225. It was not originally a cathedral since the Rīgas Doms served that function. At the beginning of the 15th century the Holy Cross Chapel was built at the south end of the early Gothic church, and part of the church was transformed into a basilica.

Image of Cathedral on Postage Stamp

In 1522 during the Protestant Reformation the building became the second German language Lutheran church in Riga. In 1523 it became the first Latvian language Lutheran church there.

In 1582 it was given to the Jesuits as part of the Counter-Reformation when Stephen Báthory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth gained control of Riga. In 1621 it was given back to the Lutherans after Gustav II Adolf of Sweden occupied Riga. At various times it served as a Swedish language, German language, or Estonian language Lutheran church. In 1812 it was used as a food storehouse by Napoleon's troops.

In 1901 the oldest Baroque altar in Riga, from 1680, was replaced by a new one. Following a referendum in 1923, the building was given back to the Catholics for use as their cathedral since the Rīgas Doms was now an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral.


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