Side A: Reverend Father Alexander Cestelli
The National Italian Catholic parish of Saint John the Baptist was founded in October 1896 by the Reverend Father Alexander Cestelli, D.D. Father Cestelli was born in Fiesole, Italy and came to America in 1888 to serve as a professor at St. Paul's Seminary in Minnesota. In January 1896, founding Rector Monsignor John Joseph Jessing invited Father Cestelli to serve at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio as a professor of moral theology. In October 1896, the Right Reverend John Ambrose Watterson, D.D., Bishop of Columbus, appointed Father Cestelli as pastor of the Italian Catholic community. Sunday Mass was celebrated in the baptistery of Saint Joseph Cathedral until September 18, 1898, when the Most Reverend Sebastiano Martinelli, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, dedicated this historic church.
Chiesa Italiana Di San Giovanni Battista (The Italian Catholic Church of Saint John the Baptist)
Built in 1898, Saint John the Baptist Italian Catholic Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike most Roman Catholic parishes, which are established by geographic boundaries, St. John's has no territorial limits, and is centered on the Italian language and heritage of its parishioners. The church not only serves the faith needs of the Italian Catholic community in the greater Columbus area, but also has historically functioned as a hub for Italian speaking immigrants to share ethnic traditions, family ties, and friendship. For over a century, Italian immigrants have proudly contributed in developing the Great State of Ohio.