MIAMI | The Cathedral of St. Mary celebrated its 60th anniversary in January, but its roots reach years earlier. Fourteen people organized the Little River Mission Club in 1929, dedicating a small wooden church three years later.
By 1955, they broke ground for the present structure, which borrows from Spanish Colonial architecture as well as other styles. In 1958, when the Diocese of Miami was created, St. Mary's was chosen as its cathedral.
During the 1960s, the diocese added a bronze bell, a pipe organ, an Italian varicolored marble floor, and a marble cathedra, or bishop's throne. The church can seat up to 1,000 people and soars 12 stories at its bell tower. Two great mahogany doors form the cathedral's main entrance, set in a keystone frame 30 feet high. A concrete dome stands 76 feet above the altar.
Appropriately, the Mother Church is filled with art of the Mother of the Church. The sanctuary has a glass mosaic 11 feet high and 70 feet long, depicting 14 scenes from the life of Mary. Her life is likewise the theme of 14 faceted-glass windows along the sides of the nave. Some of the windows show various apparitions of Mary -- some familiar like Our Lady of Fatima, some lesser known like Our Lady of Beauraing.
Also at St. Mary's is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with a wall of faceted glass depicting the Annunciation and the Birth of Christ. Pope John Paul II prayed there at the start of his U.S. tour in 1987.