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Society Hill in Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Old St. Mary's

1763

 
 
Old St. Mary's Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed 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,
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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 "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.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches & ReligionColonial EraPatriots & PatriotismWar, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #02 John Adams series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1763.
 
Location. 39° 56.747′ N, 75° 8.899′ W. Marker is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia County. It is in Society Hill. Marker is at the intersection of 4th Street and St. James Place, on the right when traveling south on 4th Street. Touch for map.
Old St. Mary's Marker [Reverse] image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), February 26, 2022
2. Old St. Mary's Marker [Reverse]
Marker is in this post office area: Philadelphia PA 19106, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
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). Touch for a list and map 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.
 
Also see . . .  Old St. Mary's Church & Holy Trinity Church. (Submitted on August 8, 2019.)
 
Old St. Mary's Church image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, July 5, 2008
3. Old St. Mary's Church
Markers at Old St. Mary’s Church image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, January 5, 2019
4. Markers at Old St. Mary’s Church
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2023. It was originally submitted on July 13, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,913 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on July 13, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.   2. submitted on March 2, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3. submitted on July 13, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.   4. submitted on August 8, 2019.

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Apr. 24, 2024