The order of churches The papal or large basilicas take priority over all other churches. Other rankings prioritize a bishop's cathedral (or co-cathedral) over all other churches in the same diocese, even if they carry the status of minor basilica. For example, in London there are three cathedrals but only two small basilicas (one for each gender).
Cathedrals are major churches designed to house a metropolitan archbishop's seat and can measure up to 50 meters long and 15 meters high. They often have numerous spires. Basilicas are smaller churches used by bishops when they do not have jurisdiction over other churches. They can be as small as 3 meters long and 2 meters wide.
Both cathedrals and basilicas use the same architectural styles but they differ in size and status. A cathedral can have many parishes while a basilica usually has only one or two. A bishop can ordain priests in a cathedral but not in a basilica because it does not have the necessary facilities. Also, a metropolitan archbishop cannot live in a cathedral but can reside in a palace or other grand residence while keeping his position in a basilica that serves as his cathedral.
In England, France, Germany, and Russia, the term "cathedral" also refers to the largest church in a diocese with no special status other than being larger than any other parish church.
Cathedral churches are of varying levels of dignity. Cathedral cathedrals are dedicated to simple diocesan bishops, archbishops or metropolitans, primates, patriarchs, and, in the Roman Catholic Church, the pope. A cathedral church does not have to be enormous and majestic, but most cathedrals have grown such in recent years. They usually stand for several hundred feet in length and up to two hundred feet wide. Although their size varies, most are gothic or baroque, with many rows of columns supporting the roof.
There are three main types of cathedral: Roman, Gothic, and Baroque. Each type has its own features that distinguish it from the other styles. However, all have one common feature: they are large churches built in honor of a bishop or other high-ranking priest.
The earliest known cathedral is St. Peter's in Rome. It was built around AD 511 at the direction of Pope Boniface IV. The first French cathedral was built in Orleans in 933. London has four medieval cathedral buildings over 100 years old each. Philadelphia has the second oldest cathedral in America; it was built between 1732 and 1752. Chicago has the third oldest cathedral in America; it was built between 1868 and 1872. New York City has the largest cathedral in the United States; it was built between 1869 and 1876. Montreal has the fourth largest cathedral in the world; it was built between 1847 and 1859.
The cathedral is a considerably bigger venue of worship than a church, and it is presided over by a bishop. A congregation of clerics or priests governs a church. The bishop is normally housed on the cathedral grounds. He is responsible for administering the church's affairs and acting as the leader of its clergy. Cathedrals are usually rich in art and history; they often contain many valuable objects that are protected by law.
Church refers to any building used for religious purposes. The word can be applied to buildings used for various religions, such as Christian churches and mosques. However, among Christians, the term most commonly refers to buildings that are primarily used for Christian worship (e.g., Catholic churches, Orthodox churches). Muslim communities typically refer to their mosques as churches because they believe that Muhammad brought Christianity to Arabia and thus consider them to be sisters faiths. However, among Muslims, the term most commonly refers to places of worship for Islam (e.g., mosque) rather than for Christianity (although mosques do exist throughout Asia and Africa where Christians exist too).
Generally speaking, churches have a roof made of wood or metal and a stone or brick foundation. They may have one or more spires if made of stone or metal. Churches can be anything from a small house of worship to a large castle-like structure.