DALLAS (OSV News) — The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, located in the heart of downtown Dallas, has long been known as a landmark in the Diocese of Dallas for its enduring cultural and faith-filled significance, drawing pilgrims from across north Texas and beyond.
Now, the long beloved diocesan landmark is also a national shrine.
On behalf of the Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Edward J. Burns officially announced Oct. 3 that the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe has been granted the significant designation of a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe has stood as a beacon of faith and history in Dallas for generations,” said Bishop Burns as he expressed his profound gratitude and enthusiasm for the milestone. “This elevation to national shrine status is a testament to our community and parishioners’ enduring devotion, the cultural richness the cathedral embodies, and its role as a place of solace and reflection for all.
“We are immensely proud of this recognition and what it signifies. This elevation to national shrine status brings even greater dignity to our sacred space, encourages us to continue to grow and improve not only the physical plant of the cathedral, but also encourages the growth of the entire downtown neighborhood,” Bishop Burns said. “This is a tremendously positive national spotlight pointed right to our diocese and our city.”
A special Mass is planned Dec. 12 to celebrate the national shrine status of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which will now be known as The National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s a designation Father Jesús Belmontes called befitting of the cathedral’s impact on Catholics within the diocese, around the nation, and throughout Central and Latin America.
“This cathedral has been a sanctuary for countless souls, a place of worship and a center for spiritual growth,” said Father Belmontes, the cathedral’s rector. “Its architecture and history serve as an architectural analog of God’s grace as it continues the mission to serve the needs of its parishioners, the diocese, and the community at large. We are committed to continuing our service, faith, and community mission, and this recognition will inspire us to do even more for our parishioners and the city.”
The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid June 17, 1898. The cathedral’s pastor at the time, Father Jeffrey A. Hartnett, did not live to see the construction completed. Father Hartnett died ministering to the faithful during the 1899 smallpox epidemic, contracting the disease while attending to the spiritual needs of patients in the city’s infirmary.
On Oct. 26, 1902, Bishop Edward J. Dunne, second bishop of Dallas, formally dedicated the cathedral. Constructed out of red brick and limestone, and featuring many stained-glass windows, the cathedral was designed by architect Nicholas J. Clayton, who is regarded by many as the greatest Victorian architect Texas has ever known.
A shrine is considered “a place where divine grace is manifested in a very special way — a place where the human and divine world intersect,” according to USCCB, which is responsible for determining what churches receive the designation.
The designation has several requirements, including that a shrine must be dedicated “to promoting the faith of the pilgrims by centering on a mystery of the Catholic faith, a devotion based on authentic Church tradition, revelations recognized by the Church, or the lives of those in the Church’s calendar of saints.”
In Dallas, the cathedral shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas, and welcomes visitors to experience its beauty and spiritual solace. The Dallas cathedral has a long history of being a place of pilgrimage for Catholics, not only from the Diocese of Dallas and throughout north Texas, but especially for Catholics from Mexico and Latin America.
For many Catholics, and especially those from these regions, the Dec. 12 feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe holds profound significance as it commemorates the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, symbolizing her maternal love and care for all humanity. Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Dallas every year on Dec. 11 and 12.
“The constant flow of pilgrims to the cathedral was a fundamental element within the naming protocol,” Father Belmontes explained. “If that tradition already exists in the life of a particular temple, it is a point in favor of obtaining the designation of national shrine, and our cathedral demonstrates this.”