An Explosion of Light from Rio’s New Cathedral Will Greet WYD Pilgrims

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.

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  • moseynon

    I see similarities between Cathedral of St. Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro and the cathedral in Oakland, California (which was built much later.)

    The view upward in Rio’s cathedral evokes, for me, an ascent towards God. I think it is inspirational.

  • Boniface

    That is ugly as hell! Why would they build such an ugly edifice for the Holy Father?!

  • Don

    Ugly as sin. In Cologne at WYD 2005 we visited the majestic Dom containing the spectacularly ornate reliquary of the Maji. This looks like it belongs on the Las Vegas strip.

  • david

    An architectural abomination

  • Chuck

    Hideous. Post as many pictures and explanation as you’d like, it’s still an ugly building.

  • Luke

    Hideous. Where do they put the craps tables?

  • Theresa

    It’s not “just” ugly. It looks like a replica of the Mayan temples, where millions (yes, millions) of human beings were sacrificed to the “god of death” before the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the conversion of the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

    Dream up any truly theistic (as opposed to demonic) explanation for the architecture that assuages your conscience. This architecture of this cathedral was NOT inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  • Nosurprises Anymore

    This is a monstrosity. It is really in the running competing with the Cathedral in Liverpool, Eng, which, along with the Rog Mahal in L.A. and the Crystal Cathedral in Orange Cty. as the most repugnant Catholic edifices on the planet. These yahoo designers need to visit St. Patrick’s.

  • Ben

    Don’t get me wrong: I am a lover of the time and tested, a supporter of the smells and bells. We should always put forth the effort to give Glory to God in our worship and our buildings.
    But the churches, the man-made temples, do not matter in the end. Church architecture is a tradition of man, not a Tradition of God. If you hold the Faith of God truly, it will transform your life and help you form and save those around you. Remember, St. Francis said preach the Gospel always, and when necessary, use words.

  • Ben

    *tried and tested- mea culpa

  • Daniel

    It is a Babylon tower