In 1869, the Bishop of Galveston established the first Catholic parish in Dallas, Sacred Heart Church. The original church, built in 1872 by Rev. M. Perrier, was located at the corner of Bryan and Ervay Streets, the present-day site of the central post office.
In December 1873, Rev. Joseph Martiniere succeeded Father Perrier as the pastor of Sacred Heart. He oversaw the completion of the church’s interior, built a rectory, and persuaded the Ursuline nuns to come from Galveston and open a school. The Ursulines ran the parochial school at Sacred Heart Church, and later at Sacred Heart Cathedral, until 1968.
When Dallas was established as a diocese in 1890, Sacred Heart was designated as the diocesan cathedral, and Bishop Thomas Brennan was named as the first bishop of Dallas. The Sacred Heart parish soon outgrew its church building, and work began on a new Sacred Heart Cathedral.
The property at Ross and Pearl Streets, where the Cathedral is now located, was purchased for $30,000, a large sum of money by the standards of the day. The Cathedral’s cornerstone was laid on June 17, 1898. Father Jeffrey A. Hartnett was pastor at the time. Father Hartnett, a devoted priest and tireless proponent of the Cathedral’s construction, did not live to see the Cathedral’s completion. He died a martyr to duty during the 1899 smallpox epidemic. He contracted the disease while attending to the spiritual needs of patients in the city infirmary.
On October 26, 1902, the Cathedral was formally dedicated as the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart by Bishop Edward Dunne. Although the booklet from the 1902 dedication credited Bishop Dunne as the Cathedral’s designer, the 1989 discovery of original drawings in a Galveston library showed Nicholas J. Clayton to be the architect. Clayton is regarded as the premier architect of 19th century Texas.
As Dallas and its suburbs grew, other diocesan parishes were built. By the 1960s, attendance at the Cathedral dwindled. A neighboring parish on Harwood Street, Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had served Mexican immigrants since 1914, had outgrown its facilities. Bishop Thomas Tschoepe invited the parish to merge with Sacred Heart’s. In 1975, the old Guadalupe church was closed. On December 12, 1977, Sacred Heart Cathedral was renamed Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe — the Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is one of two cathedrals in the United States to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas.
Please visit the Cathedral Guadalupe website for more information about the mother church for the Diocese of Dallas.