By Kathy Schiffer
Ave Maria Radio
As World Youth Day pilgrims descend upon the city of Rio de Janeiro, I thought you’d enjoy a peek at the city’s great cathedrals.
First the old one: The Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Ancient See.
The Old Cathedral, located in the Praça XV square in downtown Rio, is one of the most important historical buildings in the city. It served as the diocesan See from 1808 until 1976, and was also used in the 19th century as the Imperial Chapel by the Portuguese royal family and the Brazilian imperial family.
And now, the new one: The Cathedral of St. Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro was built between 1964 and 1979. The modern, conical structure has a standing-room capacity of 20,000 people.
Designer Edgar Fonceca was inspired by the Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. At its base, the pyramid is square; but it narrows as it rises toward the sky, forming a plateau at the top. Unlike the pyramids of the Maya, Rio’s Cathedral is circular and tapered, symbolizing the proximity of the people to God, and reminiscent of a bishop’s mitre.
The interior of the Cathedral features a vast Greek cross hovering above the main altar, suspended by six steel cables.
The cathedral’s four rectilinear stained glass windows soar 210 feet from floor to ceiling. They represent the four “marks” of the Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.