The Metropolitan & Primate Cathedral of the Americas is the 493 year old Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The now Metropolitan & Primate Cathedral of the Americas in Santo Domingo was originally commissioned by Pope Julius II (Julius the Fearsome) in 1504 and construction on this very first Cathedral in the Americas began with the arrival on May 8th in 1512 under the leadership of Bishop Fray García Padilla a Dominican Friar and new Bishop of Santo Domingo.
He remained in the position until Bishop Geraldini, who had been appointed in 1519 to replace him finally arrived in 1521.
In 1521, the newly arrived Bishop Alexander Geraldini encouraged both the clergy and the gentry of the island to build a much grander and awe inspiring Cathedral, more in keeping or in line with its status as the first Cathedral in the Americas. They enthusiastically agreed and the foundation stone of the current Basilica was laid in 1521.
The contractor was Luis Moya bishop of Saoya, who built the church according to plans which had been developed by Alonso Rodriguez, of Seville.
By 1523, construction finally got underway and continued until completion and the consecration of the Church in 1541.
Great political power had been added to Spain in Europe. In 1520 the throne of Spain fell
to a young man, Charles, the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella.
His mother was Juana, the Spanish princess, and his father was Philip the Handsome, of Burgundy. Philip the Handsome was the son of Maximilian, the Archduke of Austria.
Now it curiously happened that the thrones of each of these three countries was left without other heirs than Charles, and in 1520 he was King of Spain, Archduke of Austria, and Duke of Burgundy and the Low Countries, including the rich commercial cities of Holland and Belgium.
In addition to all this, the German princes elected him German Emperor, and although he was King Charles the First of Spain, he is better known in history as Emperor Charles the Fifth.
So it happened that in February of 1546 the Emperor Charles V asked Pope, Paul III, to grant the church, at Santo Domingo, in what was then called Hispaniola the status of Metropolitan Cathedral and Primate of the Americas.
The Pope, was so favourably impressed by the Emperor Charles’ initial work of “evangelization” in the Americas that he granted his request almost immediately.