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Difference Between Cathedral and Church

Cathedral vs Church

All religions of the world have their places of worship that are used by followers of the faith to assemble and prey to God, in accordance with the traditions and customs mentioned in the sacred books of the religion. The places are considered holy places, and major festivals of the religion are celebrated with gaiety in these places. Cathedral and church are two such places of worship in Christianity. Though it is basically a church that is a paid visit by the devotees regularly, there are other names, such as cathedral, chapel, and basilica that confuse those who are not Christians. This article will explain the difference between a church and a cathedral in simple terms to remove all doubts from the minds of the readers.

A cathedral is a much larger place of worship than a church, and usually houses a church inside it. In fact a cathedral is considered the largest church in a city. It is the chief church of a diocese, and houses the throne of the bishop. Basilica is a building that has some archeological importance and historical significance, though it also houses a church. It is in the power of the Pope to declare a particular building as a basilica. Basilicas have a holy door that is their chief characteristic.

Whereas, a church is run by priests or a group of clergymen, a cathedral is basically run under the authority of the bishop, who is the highest priest in the church housed inside the cathedral. So a cathedral, is basically a large church, but this is not a feature that distinguishes a cathedral from a church. There are examples, where another church in a city is bigger than the cathedral. What really separates a cathedral from all other churches in a place, is the fact that it houses the bishop of the place inside it. In Christianity, there are many denominations, and cathedral is associated with older and more traditional denominations, such as Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. More recent denominations, such as Baptists or Methodists do not have a cathedral in their faith as their hierarchical structure does not have a bishop.

However, there are instances when a cathedral remained cathedral despite organization having undergone a change, and bishop not remaining a part of the structure. The Glasgow Cathedral does not have a bishop, yet it is still called a cathedral.

There is an interesting fact associated with the classification of church and cathedral. In Britain, the presence of a cathedral in a place amidst scores of churches indicates the fact that the place can be called a city. The practice was started by King Henry VII by founding dioceses in 6 places, and conferring the title of city to these towns. So a place could be called a city only if it had a cathedral.

In brief:

Difference between Cathedral and Church

• Church and cathedral are two of several places that are used for worship by Christians, others being chapel, basilica, minster, and abbey.

• There may be many churches in a place, but cathedral is often the largest of them, and houses the bishop of the city

• The distinguishing feature is thus, the throne of bishop, and not the size of the building

• It began with King Henry VII when he founded dioceses in several places, and called them cities

• So, a place is classified as a city, if it has a cathedral.


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