To schedule a tour of St. Joseph Cathedral Basilica, please download the tour reservation form. Tour Reservation_Form
The first civilian settlement in Alta California was founded on November 29, 1777. The Spaniards named it Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. It was located 1½ mile north of here in the area of what is now North First and Mission Streets. The county offices are currently located there. Due to the annual flooding of the Guadalupe River, the pueblo was finally allowed to relocate to this central area in 1797. The town plaza ran from what is now San Carlos to St. John Streets and from Market to San Pedro, one block west of here. Plaza de Cesar Chavez is the only remaining part of that original plaza.
In 1803, the first pueblo church was constructed on site. It was constructed of adobe and wood and was named in honor of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of the pueblo. Earthquakes and fires destroyed three church buildings. A temporary building one block west of here was used for church functions for about two years.
On the feast day of Saint Joseph, March 19, 1876, the cornerstone for the fifth and present Saint Joseph church building was laid. It was opened and dedicated on April 22, 1877, the two-year anniversary of the fire that destroyed the previous church on this site. From 1925 to 1927, a major art enhancement program took place. This project included all of the ceiling paintings, wall decorations, and installation of stained glass windows over the entrance doors.
In 1981, the Vatican divided the Archdiocese of San Francisco, establishing the Diocese of San Jose. A diocese is a territorial area containing churches and people under the care and leadership of a bishop. (See Addendum: The Diocese of San Jose)
In 1985, the Vatican approved this church building as the Cathedral of the new diocese—pending its full restoration. Major restoration began in March of 1987 and lasted to the end of October 1990. Saint Joseph’s was dedicated as the Cathedral of Saint Joseph on November, 4, 1990, with Bishop Pierre DuMaine presiding. Saint Joseph’s is listed in both state and federal registers as an historic landmark. The Franciscans administered the parish for 48 years, from 1803 to 1851; the Jesuits for 141 years, from 1851 to 1992. Diocesan priests currently administer the Cathedral parish.
In 1997, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral received basilica status from the Vatican and is now called Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph. Basilica is a title of honor given to a church in recognition of its history, artistic beauty, and service to its community.