Great Church Stained Glass of Texas: Christ Church Cathedral

The congregation for the Christ Church Cathedral was established in 1839, back when Texas was still an independent republic. Today the church houses the oldest extant congregation in Houston and is one of the oldest churches in all of Texas. It also has a baptized membership of over 3,000 communicants.

The original building for the church was constructed in 1845, but the size of its congregation grew rapidly. Therefore, to make room for the increased membership, the cornerstone for a new building was laid in 1859. It has an interesting story about its construction. While the church was being built, a cattleman was driving a herd of cattle down Texas Avenue. He stopped to ask about the construction site and once he found out it was a church, he gave the builders a steer as a contribution. Now, a steer’s head is part of the Diocesan Seal.

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Construction of the church was slowed due to the outbreak of the Civil War, but it was completed in the early 1870’s with the exception of a few enlargements and renovations that followed. It welcomed people of various races and religions to its doors. Incorporated into the new church were several memorial stained glass windows dedicated to the religious leaders Gray, Clemens, Lawson, and Botts.

The new windows included several tall arched stained glass installations that were built to line the walls of the chapel. They were designed to feature various religious figures and biblical scenes.

In 1938, the church caught fire when a nearby six story building broke into flames. There was considerable damage to the roof but the rood screen was saved. The church was rebuilt and many additional renovations were completed, including the installation of a new Aeolian-Skinner Organ.

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Today the cathedral continues to host some of the most prominent religious events in the state. One of its most popular celebrations is the Diocesan Choral Festival. This notable festivity features talent choirs from across the diocese.