One of the most revered landmarks in the town of Laredo is the Cathedral of San Agustin, which is the current seat of the Catholic Diocese in Laredo. Like the rest of Laredo, the Cathedral has a rich and vibrant history that dates all the way back to when the city was first established by Don Tomás Sánchez.
When Villa de San Agustin de Laredo was first established in 1755, the community needed a place of worship. Francisco de San Buena Ventura, Bishop of Guadalajara, ordered the construction of a small mission chapel in Laredo in 1760. The chapel was the community’s only place of worship for over a decade before the growing population required a bigger church. In 1778, the first stone church was built to accommodate over two hundred local families. A year later, San Agustin was officially established as a parish by the Bishop of Guadalajara.
The church remained intact over the next several decades before it caught the attention of Bishop John M. Odin of the Diocese of Galveston in 1848. He assigned several French priests to the church, one of whom was Allophone Martin Souchon. After two decades, Souchon finalized plans with French priest and architect Pierre Yves Keralum to build the Cathedral of San Agustin in 1866. Souchon oversaw every detail from the Gothic Revival structure and its five-story clock tower to its stained glass. After six years, the project was complete, and the Cathedral of San Agustin opened its doors on December 18, 1872.
Over the last 147 years, the San Agustin Church has been actively preserved with its first restoration project occurring from 1989 to 1994. The $675,000 project added a Blessed Sacrament Chapel to the structure and covered church-wide repairs and restoration. In 2017, Most Reverend James A. Tamayo, First Bishop of Laredo, announced plans to restore and renovate the chapel once again. He launched the San Augustin Cathedral: Our Story, Our Faith, Our Cathedral campaign to raise $11 million to fund the four-year project.
Apart from the ongoing renovations, the Cathedral of San Agustin is an integral part of Laredo and was officially established as a Cathedral in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Today, the Cathedral is one of the oldest in the southwest that still stands. Also the second tallest building in Laredo, it’s easy to see why the Cathedral holds a special place in the heart of the community.