“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Old St. Mary's


Old St. Mary's Marker image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, July 5, 2008
1. Old St. Mary's Marker
Inscription. Old St. Mary's church was the most important Catholic church during the American Revolution and the early years of the nation. Built in 1763, when St. Joseph's became too small to accommodate the Catholic population of the city, the church was enlarged in 1810 when it became the first cathedral of the new diocese of Pennsylvania.
During the Revolution the Continental Congress attended services at St. Mary's on four occasions to solemnize observances during the war. George Washington and John Adams worshiped here in 1774; Washington returned to St. Mary's when he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.
St. Mary's was established by the Jesuits of St. Joseph's church in Willings Alley. Father Robert Harding, an English Jesuit, was the founding pastor, and was assisted by Father Ferdinand Farmer (actually Steinmeyer) who came to Philadelphia to minister to the German Catholic population of the city. From 1763 until 1821 St. Mary's and St. Joseph's were one parish. In addition to Jesuit fathers, the parish was served by Dominicans, Augustinians and Franciscans as well as diocesan priests.
In 1810, at the direction of the first bishop of Philadelphia, Michael Egan, O.S.F., St. Mary's church was enlarged to its present size. The entrance to the church was through the cemetery from Fifth Street until 1886 when the church was
Old St. Mary's Church image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, July 5, 2008
2. Old St. Mary's Church
"turned around" so that entrance was from Fourth Street.
The cemetery has been a Catholic burial ground since 1759. Interred there are such notables as merchant George Gordon Meade, General Stephen Moylan, Commodore John Barry, Congressman Thomas Fitzsimons, diplomat Manuel Torres, publisher Mathew Carey, artists John Neagle, and Michael Bouvier, great-great-grandfather of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
Erected by Old Philadelphia Congregations.
Location. 39° 56.747′ N, 75° 8.899′ W. Marker is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia County. Marker is at the intersection of 4th Street and St. James Place, on the right when traveling south on 4th Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Philadelphia PA 19106, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Manuel Torres (here, next to this marker); “The Place You Tread is Holy Ground-” (here, next to this marker); Honor the Immortal Dead (here, next to this marker); Old St. Mary Cemetery (here, next to this marker); Old St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (a few steps from this marker); Barry (a few steps from this marker); Caspar Wistar (a few steps from this marker); Philosophić et Scientić Domus (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Philadelphia.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Other markers at St. Mary's church and cemetery.
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches, Etc.Colonial EraNotable BuildingsNotable PersonsPatriots & PatriotismWar, US Revolutionary
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,226 times since then and 97 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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