St Patrick's Catholic Church

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No Pamphlet or Ticket


February 10th, 2008

St Patrick's Catholic Church Washington, DC


      Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop of Baltimore, canonically erected the boundaries of this historic parish by January 1794. It was founded specifically for the spiritual benefit of the numerous Irish immigrants who came to the Federal City of Washington to work on the federal buildings projects. Naturally the church was dedicated to and placed under the patronage of Ireland's patron saint, Patrick. It was the first church of any denomination erected in the Federal City, i.e. the city of Washington. The city of Washington, along with the city of Georgetown and the county of Washington, eventually merged to form a single territorial government known as the District of Columbia pursuant to the District Territorial Act of 1871.

     James Hoban, was the Irish-born architect and parishioner of St. Patrick's who directed the construction of the White House, reputedly designed the second church building. The parish hall and social center was built in 1866.

      This present edifice was designed by the New York architect Laurence O'Connor and is considered the third church building, but the fourth major location of parish worship (excluding private chapels or homes used in the late 1790s). Though the cornerstone and foundation for this third and present structure were set and blessed on November 3, 1872, the church was not sufficiently completed until the first Mass was celebrated on November 2, 1884. The official dedication was held on December 28, 1884. In anticipation of our bicentennial anniversary in 1994, the church was renovated as it is now.

     The exterior of this Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture is constructed of random coursed blocks of blue-gray gneiss and is trimmed with buff colored sandstone together with polished rose and gray granite. The length of the building from the center entrance to the sanctuary apse is 169 feet; the width of the transept is 84 feet. The height of the nave vaults from the floor is 60 feet. (Taken from official website).

     The sylvan green Vermont marble design of the grand shamrock is embedded into the floor of the vestibule at its entrance. According to pious Irish tradition, St. Patrick used the shamrock or clover with its three leaves as an obvious symbol of the Blessed Trinity when he evangelized the Irish people. Just as the shamrock was one plant with three leaves, so too was God one God in three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, the shamrock became the emblem of Ireland. 

     Other features inside the church include: Statues of St. Brendan and St. Brigid, The Great Crucifix, The Confessional and the Baptistery, The Choir Loft, he Great Rose Window, The Organ, The Nave, Clerestory Windows (of significant Stained glass depictions), Transept Windows, Statuary of the ambulatories which include 3 statues of St Patrick and one of St Anthony of Padua.  Also, Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Thomas More and The Pieta (not the one by Michelangelo of course, but another by a different sculptor).  There is an enamel and mosaic likeness of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, The Stations of the Cross, Holy Water Fonts, The Sanctuary with it's stained glass windows (7), The Main Altar and Pulpit, The Blessed Sacrament Altar, and the Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

          The church is located on Tenth Street NW.  Mass Times are Sundays at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 12:00 p.m., Saturdays at 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m., 12:10 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.  You can visit the church free.  tithing is accepted on mass days of course. the Church is located across from the new Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum.  Bring good walking shoes and explore the neighborhood where shops and offices line the streets.  Be prepared to pay hefty sums in this area for parking garages.  We were in there less than an hour and it cost 15.00!  You can use metered parking as well  but it's very difficult to find a spot.  You could metro in and walk from the station.  Sometimes people park far away and do that.  Check the local maps when you arrive for where the metro stations are located.  Most things in DC are within walking distance from the metro.  Recommend water, camera and cash but don't flash the cash; there are some homeless people asking for money in this area and a couple scam artists are running about, so be careful.


Left to Right 1) photo front of the Church 2) Plaque in front of the church 3) The other building (rectory perhaps)



Some nice photos by a visitor

About St Patrick

History of St Patrick's Day on the History Channel

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