San Fernando Cathedral and the Alamo: Sacred Place, Public Ritual, and Construction of Meaning

Citation: 
Matovina, Timothy. “San Fernando Cathedral and the Alamo: Sacred Place, Public Ritual, and Construction of Meaning.” Journal of Ritual Studies 12, no. 2 (1998):1-13.
Abstract: 

Timothy Matovina explores how the San Fernando Cathedral and the Alamo function for residents and visitors of San Antonio, Texas as centers of public ritual and celebration, serving to “sacralize their environment, define and celebrate their heritage, shape collective memory, and express group solidarity and memory.” Both shrines represent differing versions of a Texas “creation myth,” the one Mexican-Catholic and the other Texas-American. Though the San Fernando Cathedral openly acknowledges the Alamo’s role in creating the Texas Republic, parishioners have come to relativize its importance and history. Public ritual at the Alamo emphasizes the conversion of diverse peoples into true Texans and true Americans, while under former and current rectors Fathers Virgilio Elizondo and David Garcia San Fernando celebrates the historically religious and cultural diversity of its faith traditions. In summary the public ritual of the Alamo reflects Walter Wink’s analogy of the “myth of redemptive violence,” with that of the San Fernando Cathedral reflecting Elizondo’s “mestizaje theology.”

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