Old St. Joseph's

Old St. Joseph's (HM5TY)

Location: Philadelphia, PA 19106 Philadelphia County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 56.788', W 75° 8.884'

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Old St. Joseph's earliest church on this site was built in 1733 by Rev. Joseph Greaton, a Jesuit missionary from England. When news that a "Romish Chappel" had been set up the Provincial Council investigated, but because William Penn's 1701 Charter of Previleges for Pennsylvanians guaranteed freedom of worship to all who confessed "One Almighty God," the chapel was left undisturbed. Penn's Charter took precedence over the English Penal Laws.

When the first public Catholic Mass was celebrated here in 1733, Philadelphia was the only place in the thirteen colonies where public Catholic services could be celebrated legally. Those principles of religious freedom enjoyed here, which later became a part of the Constitution of the United States, make Old St. Joseph's a national historic shrine.

Jesuits at St. Joseph's planted the first seeds of Catholicism in an important urban center, participated fully in the civic and political life of the colony, and evangelized southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York for the American Catholic church.

The first chapel on this site had a congregation of thirty-five German and Irish worshipers. As the number of Catholics increased, a larger church was built in 1757. The present church,the third on the site, was built in 1839.

From the beginning, the Jesuits at St. Joseph's helped give the growing number of arriving Catholics a foothold in a new land. In the 18th century, they ministered to Acadian exiles in 1755 and refugees from Santo Domingo in the 1790s. The city's first African-American Catholic congregation met at Old St. Joseph's in the 1850s. Here Italian immigrants planned their first church in Philadelphia, St. Magdalen de Pazzi, in 1852. And on this site St. Joseph's College (now on City Avenue) was established in 1851.

Old St. Joseph's, Philadelphia's "church in the alley," is still an active Catholic parish. For more than 250 years, Jesuits and their lay colleagues have ministered to the spiritual and material needs of parishioners and other persons throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area, regardless of their religious affiliation, social or economic status, and have encouraged dialogue and mutual respect among all men and women.
HM NumberHM5TY
Placed ByOld Philadelphia Congregations
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 at 11:21am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 487351 N 4421826
Decimal Degrees39.94646667, -75.14806667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 56.788', W 75° 8.884'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 56' 47.28" N, 75° 8' 53.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)267, 484, 215, 610
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 237 S 4th St, Philadelphia PA 19106, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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