As the oldest church in Texas, it’s no surprise that some people claim ghosts haunt San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral. But the cathedral’s reputation is so spooky that Condé Nast Traveler magazine named it one of the 30 most haunted places in the U.S. — the only place in Texas to make the list.
“When construction workers started renovating the church in 1936, they unearthed bones, nails, and tattered military uniforms near the altar, which some believe belonged to three soldiers of the Alamo,” Condé Nast Traveler says. “Since the disturbing incident, visitors have reported shadowy figures and orbs in their photographs, as well as ghosts in the back of the church itself. Such otherworldly inhabitants include a man dressed in black and figures in hooded, monk-like clothing.”
Condé Nast Traveler points out, though, that skeptics dismiss the story about the Alamo soldiers, given that they likely died in a fire.
San Fernando Cathedral, established in 1731, welcomes thousands of people each week for Masses, baptisms, weddings, funerals, concerts, and other events. Alamo hero James Bowie even got married there in 1831.
A few apparitions apparently are on hand for those activities. Among them is a white stallion galloping in front of the church, according to Ghost City Tours, one of several companies that include the cathedral on their San Antonio ghost tours.
“On one occasion, a guest on a ghost tour stood listening to her guide regale her with the tales of the church itself. But even as she stood there, her gaze continued to track a strange man who seemed to be following the tour,” Ghost City Tours recalls. “He trailed them, following them from the front of the cathedral and then again when they edged toward the back of the historic site. And then … then, he simply disappeared.”
Ghostly monks, however, seem to be the most frequently spotted apparitions. The tour company speculates that the monks perhaps are unwilling to depart their house of worship, or maybe they are unable to leave the place since their bodies (and the bodies of other people) were buried within the church’s walls or under the church’s floor.
This isn't the first time Conde Nast Traveler has highlighted San Antonio's spooky past. In 2016, the Alamo City joined New Orleans, Boston, and Savannah to be named one of the country's eight most haunted cities.