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New York City Cathedrals

By Paul Halsall


There seem to be at least 18 churches claiming Cathedral status in New York. The City has many religious communities which maintain bishops claiming "apostolic" descent. These are the main groups.

  • Roman Tradition
    • Latin Catholic - 2 NYC Cathedrals
      The people usually known as "Roman Catholics" - the historic Church of the West under the immediate supervision of the Pope.
    • Eastern Catholic Churches - 1 NYC Cathedral
      Sometimes called "Eastern Rite" or "Uniate" churches (although they reject both terms), these a groups of Easter Christians (Both Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian) which united with Rome.
    • Old Catholics
      Groups which split from Rome over various issues
      -The Church of Utrecht,
      -the German "Old Catholics" over papal infallibility.
      -the Polish National Caholic Church
    • Independent Catholics
      A number of Old Catholic bishops ordained "independent" bishops. There are now literally hundreds of these "episcopi vagantes", of lesser or greater spiritual probity. They seem to have a tendency to call living room sanctuaries "cathedrals".
    • Liberal Catholic
      A group which has apparently preserved Catholic Orders, although adopting a Theosophist theology (i.e. a sort of Western Hindu-Buddhism).
  • Episcopalian - 1 NYC Cathedral
    The American descendent of the Church of England. It claims to preserve the historic episcopate. This claim is disputed by Rome, and the Orthodox are ambiguous about the claim. The situation is made more complex by the long standing participation in Episcopalian ordinations of Old Catholic bishops.
  • Chalcedonian Orthodox
    Orthodox churches which accept the definition of Christ's two natures made in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon.
    • Greek Orthodox - 3 NYC Cathedrals
      The largest Orthodox Church in America. Largely made up of Greek and Cypriot immigrants. Under the Patriarch of Constantinople. Services in Greek.
    • Orthodox Church in America - 1 NYC Cathedral
      A multi-ethnic but basically Slavic Orthodox Church. It derives from the old "Metropolia" or "Greek Orthodox Russian Catholic Church". It is the second largest Orthodox grouping in the US. Russians, Carpatho-Russians and a lot of converts make up its congregations. Services are often in English. Claims to be "autocephalous" (self-governing), but status this was granted by the Patriarch of Moscow.
    • Ukrainian Orthodox - 1 NYC Cathedral
      Ethnically based.
    • Antiochian Orthodox - 1 NYC Cathedral
      Branch of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. Has a large Arabic membership, but also a lot of American converts.
    • Serbian Orthodox - 1 NYC Cathedral
      Ethnically based branch of Serbian Orthodox Church.
    • [Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia] - 2 NYC Cathedrals
      Pro-Tsarist Orthodox Church. Not in communion with other Orthodox groups.
    • [Greek Orthodox - Old Calendarists - various types] - 2 NYC Cathedral
      Greek's who reject the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar, and split away from the Church of Greek.
  • Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Churches
    Sometimes called "monophysite", a term which they strongly reject. These churches reject the definition of Chalcedon in 451 and only accept the first three ecumenical councils.
    • Coptic Orthodox
      The historic Church of Egypt. There are still millions of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
    • Ethiopian Orthodox
      The historic church of Ethiopia
    • Armenian Orthodox - 1 NYC Cathedral
    • Armenian Apostolic- 1 NYC Cathedral
      The two Armenian Orthodox Churches owe loyalty to different Patriarchs (called a "Catholicos"), but are similar in all else. They are almost exclusively Armenian in membership

Here are the Assembled Cathedrals of New York

  • St. Patrick's Cathedral, 5th Avenue @ 50th St. (RC)
    Spectacular late gothic pastiche.
  • St. Patrick's Old Cathedral (Roman Catholic) 263 Mulberry Street, 1809 [offsite link]
    Scene of anti-Catholic riots in the 19th century. Used for the baptism scene in The Godfather.
  • St. James Cathedral, 248 Jay St., Brooklyn (RC)
    Queen Anne Style architecture. Most of its vibrant congregation deserted it in favor of St. Boniface when the less-than-charismatic Bishop Daily replaced the well-liked Bishop Mugavero.
  • St. Anne's Armenian Catholic Cathedral, East 12 Th, Manhattan (Armenian Catholic)
    The Church also doubles as a Shrine of St. Anne [one of two in Manhattan - the other, with a relic of St. Anne's forearm, is in the French-Canadian National Parish Church of St. Jean-Baptiste)
  • St. John the Divine, 1027 Amsterdam Avenue and 112th St. (Episcopal)
    The largest cathedral in the world, with mix of Romanesque and gothic architecture. Has a tendency to have trendy services.
  • Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, 319 East 74th St. (Greek Orthodox)
    Converted standard Protestant church, so not especially special architecturally.
  • St. Demetrius Cathedral, 31st St. and 30th Dr. Astoria, Queens, (Greek Orthodox)
    A recreation of a small Byzantine Cathedral, for instance the Metropolis in Athens.
  • St. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, 64 Schemerhorn St. Brooklyn, (Greek Orthodox)
    Not seen.
  • St. Irene of Chrysovalantou, 36-07 23 Ave. Astoria (Greek Orthodox - Old Calendar)
    A converted Protestant barn of a church, but with a spectacular over-the-top interior. Recently (May 1998) reconciled with main Greek Orthodox Church, and became a monastery.
  • St. Markella of Chios, 22-68 26th Street Astoria, N.Y. 11105 (Hellenic Orthodox Traditionalist Church of America: Holy Diocese of Astoria)
    The church claims that it is modeled on St. Saviour in Chora in Constantinople.
  • Protection of the Holy Virgin Cathedral, 59 East 2nd St., (Orthodox Church in America)
    Another converted Protestant church. Reputedly excellent chior.
  • St. Nicholas Cathedral, 15 East 97th St., (Russian Orthodox Outside Russia)
    Not seen.
  • Cathedral of the Resurrection, 228 N 12th St., Brooklyn, (Russian Orthodox Outside Russia)
    Dramatic and detailed recreation of a Russian Church, onion domes and all.
  • St. Nicholas Cathedral, 355 State St., Brooklyn, (Antiochian Orthodox)
    Not seen.
  • St. Sava's Cathedral, 16-20 W. 26th St. (Serbian Orthodox)
    This has been St. Sava Cathedral since 1944 , but the building has its origin in 1850 as Trinity Chapel. The web page - run by the Church - contains links to Serbian Nationalist pages. Nevertheless, it has some fascinating information about the history of the building [where and Orthodox liturgy was celebrated as early as 1865.] Other pages, unfortunately, have the brash confidence of small-minded sectarians.
  • St. Volodymr's Cathedral, 160 W. 82nd St. (Ukrainian Orthodox)
    Converted Protestant church.
  • St. Vartan's Cathedral, 630 2nd Ave. @ 34th St. (Armenian Apostolic)
    Detailed recreation of a 4th century Armenian church.
  • St. Gregory the Illuminator's Cathedral, 221 E. 27th St. (Armenian)

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