GUEST POST: Shadowy figures, Orbs at Haunted Cathedral

Condé Nast Traveler lists the San Fernando Cathedral as one of the 30 most haunted places in the country.

by John Egan
For The Austin Séance

The oldest church in Texas apparently contains some really old ghosts.

San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral, which was completed in 1750 (26 years before the birth of the United States as a nation), has been ranked by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the 30 most haunted places in the country.

What’s so spooky about this Gothic Revival-style church?

“Visitors have reported seeing shadowy figures and bright orbs appearing in photographs. Some have even said they saw a man dressed in monk-like robes near the back of the cathedral, and a white stallion galloping across the front,” according to

As Condé Nast Traveler explains, when construction workers began renovating the downtown church in 1936, they unearthed bones, nails and tattered military uniforms near the altar. Some believe those belonged to three soldiers who fought during the Battle of the Alamo, which took place in 1836.

A WhiTe StalliON

Since the renovation, visitors to the cathedral have reported spotting the shadowy figures, bright orbs, monk-like man and white stallion.

“Who are these spirits who still call San Fernando Cathedral home? Although we can’t say for certain, it’s quite likely that it might be the energies of the people who were once buried within the walls of the church itself,” according to Ghost City Tours in San Antonio, considered one of the most haunted cities in the country.

San Antonio TV station KSAT notes that during San Fernando’s early days, parishioners and priests were buried within the walls of the church, which was a common practice at the time.

San Fernando Cathedral’s fame goes beyond its status as a haunted place, though. It joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and Pope John Paul II visited the church in 1987. The cathedral offers guided and self-guided tours.

“Over the years, San Fernando Cathedral’s haunted reputation has grown tremendously. Because of its innate spiritual ambience as a house of worship, it’s not so surprising that there might be a ghost or two still roaming the grounds,” Ghost City Tours says.

Lauren Schiess Swartz of Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours told San Antonio magazine that one of the spirits at the cathedral could be James Bowie, who was married in the church in 1831 and played a key role in the Texas Revolution. He died in 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo.

Emily Morgan and Menger Hotels

By the way, the cathedral isn’t far from the Emily Morgan Hotel, ranked among the world’s 13 most haunted hotels. The structure previously served as a morgue and housed psychiatric patients.

USA Today cites frequent reports of unexplained noises, apparitions and “the feeling of being touched” among Emily Morgan visitors. To bump your chances of a paranormal encounter at the hotel, book a room on the seventh, ninth, 11th or 12th floor, USA Today advises.

Also nearby is another haunted spot, the Menger Hotel, which opened in 1859 adjacent to the Alamo. It’s said to be home to as many as 32 ghosts. President Teddy Roosevelt once stayed there, and he’s reportedly one of the hotel’s apparitions.

“Although none [of the ghosts] have been reported as threatening, you may come in to contact with them as they go about their daily business,” according to Haunted Rooms America.

John Egan is an Austin, Texas-based freelance writer.

The Austin Séance Presents Mysterious Noises, a Reprint of 1848 Affidavits from eyewitnesses to the first Fox Sisters séances

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A reprint presented by The Austin Séance of one of Spiritualism's most important texts.
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E.E. Lewis’ A Report of The Mysterious Noises Heard in The House of Mr. John D. Fox, first published in 1848, is arguably the most historically significant document in the literature of American Spiritualism. In it, Lewis, through a series of contemporaneous affidavits, has created the authoritative record of America’s first séances.


This approximately 60-page reprint cuts through pervasive layers of myth surrounding the historic sessions that began March 31,1848 — and particularly myths surrounding the principal protagonists: the sisters Kate and Maggie Fox; and their mother, Mrs. Margaret Fox. Significantly, A Report of The Mysterious Noises hardly references the sisters at all and instead places Mrs. Fox and town neighbors as principal facilitators behind the famous spirit sessions.

The Austin Séance has reprinted this historic document in pamphlet form on the occasion of the 175th Anniversary of the first Fox Sisters’ séances of March 31, 1848 — events so significant that scholars credit them with launching the American spiritualist movement. For anyone seeking to gain a better understanding of the history of that movement, early séance practices, and the Fox family, A Report of The Mysterious Noises should prove an invaluable resource.

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