Built of bricks, most of which came from the salvage of the ballast of sailing ships that came empty to Belize to take on logwood and mahogany logs, the Cathedral has undergone many changes since 1858.
The building, especially the interior, follows closely the traditional Jesuit church design inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola that started with his Baroque masterpiece, the Chiesa del Jesu in Rome, Italy.
The interior of the Cathedral is made entirely of mahogany. Only the pews, high Altar and side Altars in Greco-Roman architecture, and the choir loft still show their mahogany finish. All the rest of the varnished wooden interior, unhappily, was painted over sometime ago. The disused choir loft once housed a pipe organ, destroyed by termites.
The baptismal font, the two lecterns of rare beautiful figured mahogany, the new plain Vatican II main altar, and the rest room are recent additions (circa 1970's). Of the four corner confessionals in Gothic Style, only two remain; the other two ruined by termites.
Following Vatican II liturgical recommendations, the tabernacle was removed from the center of the High Altar to the side altar previously dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Other side altar once dedicated to St. Joseph is now the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with its impressive figured mahogany frame.
Three bishops are buried under the floor of the baptismal font (Bishops Di Pietro, Hopkins, and Rice.)
The in-laid platform and steps of the High Altar, together with the Bishop's Throne (ex-cathedra) and the communion rail were removed as part of Vatican II reforms.
The Portico at the front of the building replaced a much smaller one with its two magnificent Corinthian cast iron columns. The Cathedral's wooden floor was replaced after 1961 hurricane with concrete and tiles.
The courtyard around the Cathedral remains pretty much the same except for a tall flagpole destroyed by Hurricane Hattie and vandalized gate lamps. The same storm destroyed many of the stained glass windows; noteworthy is the damaged stained glass for Bishop Di Pietro memorial.
The bells are in one tower; four peels for joyous events; three tolls for funerals alternating with all four; two for church services; and one for the Angelus at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. The steeples of the twin towers have been battered over the years. The original Byzantine onion domes were changed in the early 1900's to Western-style soaring needle-point pyramidal steeples, demolished by the 1931 hurricane. Their shorter squat replacements have also been subject to subsequent hurricane damage.
The Cathedral building, displaying its fully brick exterior as late as the 1920's, but since sadly plastered over, continues to evolve. With your help, we can repair, enhance and restore the building to some of its former self.
Please click here to make your contribution today.