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What’s The Difference Between Church and a Cathedral?

You may think that a Church and a Cathedral are the same, but, they are not. All cathedrals are churches, but not all churches are cathedrals.

By I Kid You Not , in Fun Facts What's the Difference Between , at September 8, 2022 Tags: , , ,

You may think that a Church and a Cathedral are the same, but, they are not.

Here’s the thing – all cathedrals are churches, but not all churches are cathedrals.

Confused? Worry not, here’s a super simple explanation.

What’s a Church?

A Church

A church is a place of worship for Catholics with a permanent gathering run by a pastor or priest. The term can refer to both the actual space and the group of people.

What’s a Cathedral?

Notre Dame Cathedral

A cathedral, on the other hand, is a church that’s run by a bishop; it’s the principal (main)church. It’s named after the cathedra, the special chair in which a bishop sits. 

The only difference between the two is that a church is run by a pastor or priest, whereas a cathedral is run by a bishop (who is higher in gradation)

The size and the decor don’t count

Most people get confused and think cathedrals are grander and larger than churches, as there are beautiful and ornate cathedrals like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France; St.Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic; and St.Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria.

St. Vitus cathedral in Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

But, that’s not a difference at all – churches can be grand and beautiful too – like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain (interestingly the most famous incomplete building in the world ) or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel.

But, why the confusion?

So cathedrals tend to be grander, as the bishop lives there. And that’s kind of important because a bishop is an important person – he or she is a senior member of the Christian priests – and has a lot more powers than other priests and is empowered to give out holy orders.

There are different gradations of bishops – so, Popes, cardinals, archbishops, patriarchs, and metropolitans are all bishops, but of different gradations and hierarchies.

Do you know what the Vatican is? It’s called the world’s smallest country. Read here

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