The Catholic Church founded the Archdiocese of San Antonio on Aug. 28, 1874, as the Diocese of San Antonio. Its creation established a territory that formerly belonged to the Diocese of Galveston.
On Aug. 3, 1926, the Diocese of San Antonio was elevated to the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The Catholic Church confers the designation of archdiocese upon Catholic dioceses that cover large areas, contain major metropolitan cities, and have high populations of Catholics. Catholics represented 41.9 percent of the Diocese's population in 1976, which was its highest point for Catholic population density.
The first appointed Archbishop of the Diocese was Arthur Jerome Drossaerts, who served until his death on Sept. 8, 1940. Prior to the Diocese' elevation, he served as Bishop for eight years.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio served as a refuge for many clergymen who fled persecution during the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. Archbishop Drossaerts was extremely vocal in condemning the United States' lack of involvement in preserving religious freedom in Mexico during this time.
Erected in 1731, San Fernando Cathedral is the Bishop's Seat of the Archdiocese. It is the oldest continuously functioning place of worship in Texas. For the first 95 years of its existence prior to Texas' establishment as an independent nation, the cathedral served as the only church for all Christians in its area, as Catholicism was the official state religion of Mexico.
As of 2014, the Archdiocese of San Antonio served 2,458,351 Catholics through 309 priests over 139 parishes.