December 13

marian calendar     december

Saint Mary of the Assumption, San Francisco, California, USA

St. Mary's Cathedral withstood the San Francisco earthquake fire of 1906, but burned up in 1962. The Roman Catholic archdiocese hired a team of top architects to design a new building two blocks away on Cathedral Hill. On December 13, 1967, its cornerstone was laid. Blessed in 1971 and formally dedicated to Saint Mary of the Assumption in 1996, the church is a city landmark. Pier Luigi Nervi and Pietro Belluschi's modernist design reflected not only the taste and technology of its time, but the new directions of Vatican II, in its cross-shaped tower and soaring interior with clear glass windows. At a glance, Mary isn't evident. Over the main altar is a shimmering kinetic sculpture; the stained glass in the ceiling arches is an abstraction of the four elements, and the relief sculpture on the facade is of Christ's ascension, not Mary's assumption into heaven. But there are bronze shrines around the sides illustrating Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Visitation, the Assumption (right), and other Marian subjects. Like the doors and other figurative elements of the Cathedral, they are by Enrico Manfrini of Italy, "Sculptor of the Sacred," who created the bronze doors of major churches in Italy, portraits and medals of popes from Pius XII to John Paul II, and the ring worn by Popes Paul VI and Francis I. The Archdiocese of San Francisco uses small bronze replicas of his Assumption shrine for its Assumpta Award, given to people who have provided outstanding service.

The Romanesque cathedral that burned in 1962 was not the first to serve San Francisco. After that church was dedicated in 1891, the 1854 Gothic revival Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception became a parish church under the Paulist Fathers. It burned to a shell in 1906. Rebuilt, Old Saint Mary's is still an active parish in the Financial District. (Information from and Picture from the Cathedral's site,   

Also commemorated this date:
Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple at Jerusalem, Coptic Orthodox Church (3 Kiahk in the Coptic calendar)
Virgen de Agua Santa, Baños, Tungurahua, Ecuador (Virgin of Holy Water). Statue crowned, 1959.
Santa María del Mar, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain (St. Mary of the Sea). Church founded, 1990. Fiesta first Sunday in Advent.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly