Notre Dame's Place of Worship

Rooted deep in the history of the Santa Clara Valley, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, with its soaring painted mosaic ceilings and stained glass windows, provides Notre Dame students with a wonderful place to worship. Several times a year the students, faculty and staff of Notre Dame walk together to the Cathedal for mass. The sea of young women in gray skirts walking through downtown to the Cathedral is quite a site to behold. The sense of community, spiturality and history are enjoyed by all, regardless of religious background.


The original St. Joseph's Church was built on the corner of Market and San Fernando streets, the site of the current basilica, in 1803.  It was the first non-mission parish built in California. The original adobe structure was damaged by earthquakes in 1818 and 1822, and a new adobe church was built from 1835 to 1846. The second church was severely damaged in the 1868 Hayward earthquake, and work on the third church began in 1869. The third church was destroyed by fire in 1875, and a temporary fourth church was built a few blocks away.  The fifth current building was dedicated by Joseph Alemany, Archbishop of San Francisco, in 1877 during construction. The portico was completed in 1884, and the large dome was finished in 1885.

In 1981, a major renovation project began at the church, which was to become the cathedral for the new Roman Catholic Bishop of San Jose. In 1985, the church was elevated to a cathedral, pending completion of the restoration in 1990. It replaced Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish, located a few blocks away, as the cathedral of the diocese. The cathedral was made a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1997.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is recognized as a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.