Welcome to St. Patrick in the City:
A Guide to the Church
By Father Patrick Dempsey
Parochial Vicar 2001-2005
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.
The first meeting place of the congregation of St. Patrick's was
in a frame house at the corner of 10th and E. Streets N.W. The
first church building, which was in use from some time in the
late 1790s until 1809, was located on the north side of F Street
between 9th and 10th Streets.
James Hoban, the Irish-born architect and parishioner of St.
Patrick's who directed the construction of the White House,
reputedly designed the second church building. It was built by
the parishioners near the site of the first church on F Street
and was used from 1809 until 1870 when it was razed. For fourteen
years, from 1870-1884, the parishioners worshipped in Carroll
Hall (presently Catholic Charities) located on the south side of
G Street between 9th and 10th Streets. 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.
The sylvan green Vermont marble design of the grand shamrock is
embedded into the floor of the vestibule at its entrance.
Originally placed in the sanctuary in 1914, it was removed from
there and placed in the vestibule during the renovations of 1994.
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.
There are numerous examples of the shamrock in the art and
architecture of the church including the seven stained glass
windows in the sanctuary depicting scenes from the life of St.
Patrick, the statue of St. Patrick in the (south) right aisle,
and the sills of the large stained glass windows on the north and
The Statues of St. Brendan and St. Brigid
The statue of St. Brendan the Navigator flanks the entrance to
the nave of the Church on the left. It was formerly located on
the right column of the sanctuary prior to the renovations of
St. Brendan lived in Ireland during the late fifth and early
sixth centuries. Though lacking in hard historical evidence, his
name is forever connected to the tales of his discovery of
America eight centuries before Columbus. Hence the sobriquet "the
Brendan is often depicted in Christian art holding a boat, which
not only represents his own voyages around the shores of Ireland
and Britain, but also other locales. The symbol of the vessel may
also anticipate the advent of the wandering Irish saints who
would eventually sweep across Europe preaching and building
monasteries at a time when the rest of Europe was devastated by
hordes of pagan vandals. The boat may even anticipate the major
means of emigration for so many poverty stricken Irish during the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
His feast day is celebrated on May 16.
The statue of St. Brigid is located opposite that of St. Brendan
and flanks the entrance to the nave of the church on the right.
It was formerly located on the left column in the sanctuary prior
to the renovations of 1994.
Like St. Brendan, St. Brigid lived in Ireland during the mid to
late fifth century and early sixth century. Though the lives of
St. Brigid and St. Brendan overlapped with St. Patrick-who lived
in the very late fourth century and well into the fifth century-
there is no historical evidence that the three saints ever met.
Venerated most highly by the Irish only after St. Patrick, St.
Brigid was well known among the Irish for her extraordinary
charity and the many miraculous healings attributed to her. Just
as Patrick is associated with the shamrock, Brigid is identified
with the small cross made from rushes. She also taught the Irish
how to pray and worship God, telling them that the light on the
altar was a symbol of the shining forth of the Gospel in the
heart of Ireland and that it must never be extinguished.
St. Brigid was also the abbess of a "double monastery" in
Kildare. Double monasteries were a common practice in Celtic
lands. They consisted of separate living quarters for religious
men and religious women while everyone met in common for prayers
Her feast day is celebrated on February 1.
The Confessional and the Baptistery
The Confessional was newly constructed in the renovations of 1994
and is located on the left side of the vestibule.
The baptistry is located at the far left corner off of the
vestibule. The traditional site of the baptistry at the entrance
of the Church symbolizes a person's entrance into the Church, the
Mystical Body of Christ, through the sacrament of Baptism. The
stained glass window above the handicapped door to the left of
the baptismal font depicts St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus
in the River Jordan. The stained glass window to the right,
depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd, is dedicated to Msgr. E.
Robert Arthur, the 13th pastor of St. Patrick's from 1971-1987.
The Little Flower mosaic in the bapistry was created by Virginia artist Matteo Randi and is a gift from the McCarthy children in loving memory of their parents, Alfred and Theresa (D'Elia) McCarthy. It was blessed and dedicated by the seventeenth pastor, Msgr. Salvatore Criscuolo, on October 1, 2008, the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Thérèse's attraction is her utter simplicity. She was no scholar; no great student of the Bible or the Fathers. She simply longed to be a saint, as she believed her person could. "In my little way," she wrote, "are only very ordinary things. Little souls can do everything that I do."
The Choir Loft
The Great Rose Window
The Great Rose Window above the choir loft is best viewed from
the three steps leading into the sanctuary. Executed in Dublin by
the artist John Hogan, it measures fifteen feet in diameter with
225 square feet of stained glass. The rose window was installed
in the west wall of the Church in 1964. Because the installation
took place shortly after the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and because President Kennedy was
the first Irish-Catholic president of the United States, the
window was dedicated to him.
A dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is at the
center of this Pentecost window. Tongues of fire extend to the
apostles who are depicted in twelve radiating panels. Beginning
at twelve o'clock and going clockwise are Peter, Matthias, James
the Great, Thomas, Jude, Matthew, Bartholomew, Andrew, Philip,
John, James the Less, and Simon.
The top of the window depicts the Virgin Mary and the words "Ave
Maria" while the bottom of the window depicts St. John the
Baptist. The left side shows St. Joseph and below him St.
Elizabeth while the right side of the window shows St. Joachim
and below him his wife St. Anne.
Smaller Stained Glass Windows on the South Wall of the Choir
The two small stained glass windows in the choir loft depict
ancient musical instruments used for sacred music in the Sacred
Scriptures. The window on the left depicts a zither and lute
while the window on the right depicts a harp and flute.
St. Patrick has the distinct honor of installing the first organ
in any church in the Federal City in 1815. The present church
building has witnessed five major organ installations. The
Lively-Fulcher Company built the current organ, a work of art in
its own right and considered as one of the best in Washington. It
consists of approximately 2600 individual pipes, three manual
keyboards, forty-four ranks, and thirty-four stops. This new
organ includes the fa‡ade, the wooden casework, and some pipes
from the 1895 organ. It was dedicated on September 11, 1994.
One of the sixteen major documents issued by the Second Vatican
Council II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, teaches that "the musical
tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable
value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason
for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music
and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn
liturgy.The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin
Church, for it is the traditional musical instrument, the sound
of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies
and powerfully lifts up men's minds to God and higher things."
(pars. 112, 120).
The new organ not only enriches our sacred liturgies for the
greater honor and glory of God but also enriches those who attend
the numerous concerts of major artists hosted annually at St.
With the exception of the Rose Window above the choir loft, all
the remaining stained glass windows in the church were created by
the Bavarian firm of Mayer & Company and were purchased before
1915. The windows in the sanctuary, the transepts, and the aisles
were installed between 1909-1915 while the clerestory windows
were installed in the 1930s. The principal windows relate events
from the Old and New Testaments, from the life of Our Blessed
Mother, and the life of St. Patrick.
North (left) Clerestory Windows
Moving from the rear of the church to the front are (1) St. Agnes
and St. Ursula, (2) St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic, (3)
St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, (4) St. Peter and St. Paul, and
(5) Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel.
North (left) Aisle Windows
Moving from the rear of the church to the front are (1) Jesus
with the doctors in the temple, (2) the Holy Family at home in
Nazareth, (3) the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and (4)
the nativity of Jesus at Bethlehem.
North (left) Transept Windows
Moving from left to right, the windows depict (1) the visitation
of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, and (2) the annunciation to Mary
by the Archangel Gabriel. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is
depicted in the octofoil above the lower windows.
South (right) Clerestory Windows
Moving from the front of the church to the rear are depicted (1)
Moses and King David, (2) St. John the Evangelist and St. John
the Baptist, (3) St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Gregory the Great,
(4) St. Benedict and St. Ignatius, and (4) St. Gertrude and St.
Rose of Lima.
South (right) Transept Windows
Moving from left to right, the windows depict (1) Jesus
commissioning His apostles to baptize all nations, and (2) the
Resurrection of Jesus. The Ascension of Jesus into heaven is
depicted in the octofoil above the two lower windows.
South (right) Aisle Windows
Moving from the front of the church toward the rear, the windows
depict (1) the agony of Jesus in the garden, (2) the Last Supper,
(3) Jesus blessing the little children, (4) and the wedding feast
Statuary on the south ambulatory
The three statues of St. Joseph, St. Patrick, and St. Anthony of
Padua are all traditional renditions sculpted from Carrara
marble. They were commissioned in 1915 from the Deprato Statuary
Company of Chicago and Pietrasanta, Italy.
As the dedication indicates, the parishioners donated the statute
of St. Joseph in honor of Rose Russell, the deceased mother of
the seventh pastor, Msgr. William T. Russell (1908-1917). They
also donated it as a gift to the pastor on the occasion of his
appointment as bishop of Charleston, South Carolina.
Though St. Joseph lived in the most humble obscurity, God raised
him to the highest sanctity by choosing him to be the virginal
spouse of the Virgin Mary as well as the foster father and
guardian of the Redeemer, the Incarnate Word of God. Innocent and
pure, silent and just, he is the shadow of the Eternal Father on
earth and, as such, the protector of Jesus and Mary in their home
in Nazareth. He is often depicted in Christian art with a budded
staff in his hand. Pious legend tells us that when the Virgin
Mary was only fourteen years old each of her potential suitors
left his staff in the temple through the night with the hope that
God would indicate which suitor He preferred for her. When the
suitors checked the next morning Joseph's staff was budding into
leaf. A dove came out of the leaf and flew up to heaven.
The feast of Joseph, Husband of Mary, is March 19 while the Feast
of Joseph the Worker is May 1.
The statue of St. Patrick (c.385-461), patron saint of Ireland
and this parish, is rightfully centered between St. Joseph and
St. Anthony of Padua. He is depicted as bishop wearing the miter
and holding the crosier, pastoral symbols of his episcopal
office. The shamrock in his left hand represents the Blessed
Trinity. According to pious tradition, St. Patrick used the
shamrock or three-leaved clover to explain the doctrine of the
Blessed Trinity to the High-King Laoghaire at the royal court of
Tara. Just as the one plant consisted of three leaves, so does
the one God consist of three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit. The sea shell in his right hand represents the means
by which St. Patrick baptized thousands of Irish. He was
responsible for the conversion of virtually the entire island
from paganism to Christianity in thirty years of missionary work.
The feast of St. Patrick is March 17.
St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was born in Lisbon, Portugal.
Though he initially joined the Augustinian order, he became a
Franciscan monk after having heard of the holiness of St.
Francis. As a Franciscan priest he was famous for his outstanding
ability to preach the Gospel zealously and fearlessly. This was
true especially against the Albigensian heresy so prominent in
southern France. For his success in fighting this heresy, Anthony
was nicknamed the "Hammer of Heretics."
According to pious tradition, Anthony saw a statue of the Christ
Child in a room. He picked up the statue and became enraptured by
the mysterious fact that God became a babe. This is why he is
often shown in Christian iconography holding the Christ Child. In
this statue Jesus is holding an orb, perhaps symbolic of the
world that He came to redeem and save. The lily in Anthony's left
hand symbolizes his purity and chastity.
Devotion to Anthony is found not only among the faithful who
venerate him as the patron of "lost items" but also by popes. He
was canonized a saint by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, only one year
after his death at the age of 36 near Padua, Italy. Pope Pius XII
named him a Doctor of the Church, specifically the "Doctor of the
Gospel" in 1946. As one of only 33 Doctors of the Church, he is
often depicted in Christian art with an open book symbolizing his
great knowledge of the Scriptures and his own writings.
The feast of St. Anthony of Padua is June 13.
Statuary on the north ambulatory
The life-size statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Thomas
are all traditional renditions sculpted from Carrara marble. The
Deprato Company of Chicago commissioned the former in 1915, while
the latter was sculpted in the Antognazzi Studio of Pietrasanta
in 2001. The Pietà is made of plaster.
The Pietà was designed and executed by Mr. Edward Berge of
Baltimore, Maryland in 1912. In it the artist produced a
harmonious piece of work in pyramidic form wherein the dead
Christ has been taken down from the Cross. The Virgin Mary is
kneeling on one knee, with the limp body of her dead Son resting
in her lap. His head is placed against the bosom of the one who
once nurtured Him as the babe of Bethlehem. His body stretches
its lifeless form in a graceful sweep across the straight but
heavy folds of Mary's simple robe, which forms a background for
what is, and must be, the principal figure of the sculpture, the
dead Christ. While His suffering for our sins has left no trace
on His divine and beautiful face, the nail prints in His hands
and feet, and the scar on His side, give evidence of His
crucifixion. The crown of thorns lies on the ground near the limp
right hand of Christ.
Alone in her sorrow, the dignified and reverent Mary suffers the
greatest of all sorrows that any woman has ever borne. The
exquisite tenderness with which the fingers of her right hand
caresses her Son's hair is profoundly touching, while her left
hand gently supports His left arm.
The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus rightfully takes its
central place between the Pietà and the statue of St. Thomas
More. Jesus has his pierced right hand extended to give his
blessing, while his left hand points to his Sacred Heart, the
focus of the statue. The Sacred Heart of Jesus artistically
represents the perfect human love that Jesus extends to all of us
in his human nature. His Sacred Heart also represents the perfect divine love that Jesus extends to us in his divine nature as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Though the modern devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
began in the 17th century with St. John Eudes, it is most
popularly associated with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690).
When Jesus appeared to her in a vision that focused on his Sacred
Heart, He told her that people needed to offer reparation for
their sins of indifference shown to his Real Presence in the Holy
Eucharist. From these visions also came the divine promises made
by Jesus for those who would offer atonement for such sins with
the proper intention. The most important of these promises was
the final one: "In the abundant mercy of my Heart, I promise that
my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive
Communion on the first Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the
grace of final repentance. They will not die in my displeasure,
nor without receiving the sacraments, and my Heart will be their
secure refuge in that last hour."
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the
Friday after the Second Sunday of Pentecost, usually in May or
The statue of St. Thomas More (1477-1535), patron of statesmen
and politicians, is especially appropriate in the capital of our
nation. It is the first new marble statue to be added to the
parish in almost a hundred years.
Leo C. Irrera of Washington, D.C., the designer of the Celtic
cross in the sanctuary, also designed and created the full-scale
model of this statue while Italian sculptors carved the Carrara
marble in the Antognazzi Studio in Pietrasanta, Italy. The
sixteenth pastor, Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi, blessed and
dedicate this statue on February 7, 2002, the 525th anniversary
of the birth date of Thomas More.
Sir Thomas was the chancellor of England during the reign of King
Henry VIII during the first half of the sixteenth century. As an
act of conscience he gave up his political position as the second
most powerful person in the English realm rather than concede to
Henry's divorce of his legitimate wife, Catherine of Aragon. He
referred to himself as "the king's good servant, but God's
first." Thomas' refusal to accept King Henry's spiritual
authority over the Church is artistically represented by Thomas'
loss of office as chancellor, the chain of which lies at his
feet. In stark contrast, his right hand points to the crucifix,
the symbol of the true king that Thomas would bear witness to
with his martyrdom.
Sir Thomas More anticipated what would become known as the
"Renaissance man," before that term was coined, an intellectual
well versed in a wide variety of subjects. He was an outstanding
and articulate example of a Christian humanist and was good
friends with Erasmus. Among the many books he authored- and which
his left hand points down to- are his Utopia, De Tristia Christi,
and a book of his poetry, among others. In his homily at the
dedication, Msgr. Vaghi noted that St. Thomas More "reminds us
daily of the supremacy of conscience properly formed and the
inalienable dignity of the human conscience." The martyr lost his
head in the Tower of London on July 6, 1535, but saved his soul
and merited the royal red crown of martyrdom.
The feast of St. Thomas More is June 22.
The beautifully crafted enamel and mosaic likeness of Our Lady of
Perpetual Help, made in Italy, is based on the thirteenth century
original icon that has been enshrined since 1866 in the
Redemptorist Church of San Alfonso in Rome.
The Archangel Michael, holding the lance and gall-sop of Christ's
Passion, is shown above the figures of Mary and the infant Jesus
on the left side of the icon. The Archangel Gabriel, holding the
cross and the nails, is shown above to the right. The infant
Jesus appears fearful clasping his mother's hands and looking
frightened as He looks at the instruments of his passion. The
loosened sandal at the bottom of the image indicates that his
trembling has shaken the clasp from it as it is about to fall.
Though frightened, the hands of the Child are turned palms
downward into his mother's for safety.
Mary's left hand is holding her child in a supportive and
protective way, but while she cares for Him her eyes are also on
us. Her red tunic is the color worn by virgins at the time of
Christ; the dark blue mantle is the color worn by mothers in
Palestine. The combination reflects the mystery that Mary is both
virgin and mother.
The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been closely
associated with St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), the founder of
the male religious order The Congregation of the Most Holy
Redeemer (Redemptorists). St. Alphonsus was well known for his
great devotion to and great love for Our Blessed Mother. Much of
his Marian theology and devotion are found in his book The
Glories of Mary. The Redemptorist sons of St. Alphonsus have been
faithful in spreading their devotion to Mary under the title of
Mother of Perpetual Help. Our own parish continues in that
tradition by praying the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Stations of the Cross
Directly above the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the
first of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Though little is
known of the artistic origin of these stations, they seem to be
made in the traditional German style.
The Franciscans fostered this late medieval devotional practice
as an act of spiritual piety, contrition, and meditation on the
passion of Jesus and His via crucis. Each of the fourteen
stations represents a blood-stained stop along the procession in
Jerusalem that Our Lord followed from the time that He faced
judgment before Pontius Pilate in the praetorium until his death
on Mount Calvary. The image depicted in each station reflects the
Scriptural account for that station.
The term "station" comes from the Latin verb "stare" meaning to
stand before. For those Christians who could not make the actual
pilgrimage to the fourteen stops where Jesus suffered his
passion, they could stand before stations such as these as a
substitute or spiritual pilgrimage for the actual places in
The first seven stations are hung on the north aisle wall while
the last seven continue on the south aisle wall.
The eight miniature crosses positioned between the Stations of
the Cross on the north and south walls indicate that a bishop has
consecrated this church through an elaborate and formal ritual. A
ninth cross is located on the south wall within the sanctuary
leading to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
As one part of the consecration ritual of a church, the bishop
would anoint twelve places along the walls with sacred chrism.
The consecration crosses marked the anointed locations. These
crosses symbolized the Twelve Apostles, the foundation stones of
the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14). The three missing
consecration crosses may have been removed during the renovation
Holy Water Fonts
Msgr. William T. Russell, the sixth pastor of St. Patrick's from
1908-1917, commissioned the four holy water fonts while he was on
a trip to Europe in 1909. He personally selected the model for
each of the fonts to be that of an angel genuflecting on one knee
with wings spread and holding a large shell in his hands. Msgr.
Russell believed that the genuflecting angels provided the church
with the "real touch of Italian art."
The Stained Glass Windows
The seven stained glass windows of the sanctuary portray scenes
in the life of St. Patrick, from shepherd boy (pastor) to bishop
(spiritual pastor). From left to right are depicted (1) the young
Patrick as a captive shepherd boy in Ireland, (2) Patrick's
dream-vision while in Britain in which he received letters
brought by an angelic courier on behalf of the Irish who beckoned
him to come back to Ireland, (3) Patrick's return from Gaul to
Ireland as bishop, (4) Bishop Patrick preaching at the Royal
Court at Tara before the High-King Laoghaire, (5) Bishop Patrick
baptizing Fidelmia and Ethna, the daughters of King Laoghaire,
(6) Bishop Patrick receives Cynnia, daughter of King Echu, as a
consecrated virgin by bestowing the veil of consecrated life on
her, and (7) the death of the saintly Patrick at Saul near
Strangford Lough, on March 17, 461.
When Patrick came to Ireland as a missionary he found a people
that was almost entirely pagan; thirty years later, on his death
bed, the Apostle to Ireland left the people almost completely
Christian, even profoundly Christian.
The sixteen niches below the Patrician stained glass windows form
The Gallery of Saints and Blesseds of the Americas. Tatiana
McKinney, a Russian-American working in the icon tradition, spent
two years completing the semi-circular series in 1996. The saints
and beatified of the New World are, from left to right: (1) Bl.
Miguel Pro, (2) Bl. Andr‚ Bessette, (3) Bl. Juan Diego, (4) Bl.
Kateri Tekakwitha, (5) St. Martin de Porres, (6) St. Isaac
Jogues, (7) St. Peter Claver, (8) St. Rose of Lima, (9) St.
Frances Xavier Cabrini, (10) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, (11) St.
John Neumann, (12) St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, (13) Bl. Marie
Rose Durocher, (14) Bl. Junipero Serra, (15) Bl. Katharine
Drexel, and (16) Bl. Damien de Veuster (16).
Since this series was completed, Pope John Paul II has elevated
two of the blessed to sainthood: Katharine Drexel on October 1,
2000, and Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on July 31, 2002.
Computer generated photographic images with brief biographies of
each of these persons are located on the ledges in the rear of
the church near the four historic holy water fonts.
The sanctuary crucifix designed in the Celtic fashion was
dedicated in 1994 during the 200th anniversary of the founding of
the parish. Both the crucified and the risen Christ are depicted
in this thirteen-foot crucifix, the crucified Christ in the way
of a negative imprint. The sculptor, Mr. Leo Irerra, also
designed and created the recently acquired statue of St. Thomas
More located in the north aisle.
The Main Altar and Pulpit
In every Catholic Church the altar is the table on which the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Out of reverence for the Mass,
which is both a sacrifice and a sacred meal, the altar must be
covered with at least one white linen cloth, symbolic of the
burial shroud of Jesus. This main altar dates from 1896 and
measures almost sixteen feet in length. The high relief panel of
the Last Supper on the front of the altar is made in the style of
Leonardo da Vinci and matches the two high relief panels found on
the walls of the Blessed Sacrament Altar, all centered on the
same Eucharistic theme.
James F. Early designed and executed the matching marble pulpit
that was donated by the parishioners of St. Patrick as a memorial
to Msgr. Denis J. Stafford, the fifth pastor of St. Patrick's
from 1901-1908 shortly before his death. The Vermont marble is
octagonal in form and ornamented with attractive carved groups.
St. Patrick's vision of the Irish people calling him is depicted
on the front of the pulpit. The left corner shows St. Paul
holding a sword, symbolic of his beheading, while the right
corner shows St. John Chrysostom with the Gospels. Chrysostom may
well be considered Christianity's best preacher as testified to
by the honor bestowed upon him by Pope St. Pius X in 1909 when he
was named as the patron saint of preachers. His depiction with
Paul is appropriate because of the many commentaries that
Chrysostom wrote on Paul's epistles. Both men were well known for
their sanctity and outstanding ability to preach the Gospel.
The north side of the pulpit includes the following: "Dedicated
To Rev. Denis J. Stafford Pastor Of St. Patrick Church 1901-1908
By His Devoted Congregation." A shamrock, often used by St.
Patrick to explain the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, surmounts
these figures and enriches a very elaborate molding. Above that
is the reading desk of the pulpit, supported by an eagle. St.
John the Evangelist is said to have soared upward like an eagle
in his lofty contemplation of the divine nature of our Savior as
recorded in his Gospel.
Blessed Sacrament Altar
The Blessed Sacrament altar is located to the right of the main
altar. The ornate red sanctuary light that hangs from the south
wall and is always lit indicates that the Real Presence of Jesus
is reserved in the tabernacle on this altar. A tabernacle is a
receptacle for the consecrated elements of the Holy Eucharist. As
such the Real Presence in the Eucharist makes this particular
part of the church most sacred and worthy of every visitor's
This tabernacle was originally placed on the high altar located
in the sanctuary from 1896 until the renovations of 1994. It was
then moved to the present Blessed Sacrament altar. The door to
this tabernacle depicts a chalice with the Sacred Host rising
from it, a clear reference to the Last Supper and the sacrifice
of Christ on the cross. The letters "IHS" inscribed on the Sacred
Host refer to the first three letters of Ihsus, the name of Jesus
in Greek. The phrase panis angelicus, Latin for "angels' bread,"
another clear reference to the Holy Eucharist, is printed below
the chalice. Each side of the tabernacle depicts an angel
guarding the Body and Blood of Christ as indicated by the chalice
and host. A dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit is immediately above
the sacred host.
Two high relief panels, also taken from the high altar during the
renovations of 1994, and placed on the walls, have Eucharistic
themes and prefigure the Kingship of Christ. On the left wall
Melchizedek, King of Jerusalem and priest of God Most High,
brings out bread and wine to Abraham after his victory over the
Canaanites. On the right wall Moses and the Hebrews gather manna,
a form of bread, in the Sinai Desert. A third matching high
relief rendered in the base of the present altar in the sanctuary
is rendered in the style of da Vinci's Last supper when Jesus
changed the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood, Soul and
The stained glass windows also depict a common theme centered on
Jesus. From left to right, (1) Jesus heals the woman who suffered
from a hemorrhage when she simply His robe; (2) the Sacred Heart
of Jesus; and (3) Mary Magdalene washes the feet of Jesus with
her tears and hair.
The Great Crucifix
The Great Crucifix located to the right of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was executed by the Bavarian firm of Mayer & Company and was originally installed in the sanctuary of the church on Good Friday of 1909. The hand carved wood image of the crucified Christ was modeled on a Spanish crucifix belonging to Father William T. Russell, the seventh pastor of St. Patrick (1908-1917). The "mission-cross" itself was a tooled tree trunk with exposed bark, a style made familiar to generations of Catholics by the Redemptorist priests who would frequently open parish missions by carrying a large cross into the church. This crucifix was removed from the sanctuary and placed on the west wall of the vestibule when the sanctuary was renovated in 1994, and later placed on the wall outside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in a subsequent renovation in 2007.
Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary is constructed of Vermont
marble and features gothic embellishments in Mexican marble. Made
by Mullen and Sons of Baltimore and donated by the Sodality of
the Blessed Virgin Mary, it was installed in 1890. An ornate and
overlapping AM for "Auspice Mariae" meaning "under the protection
of Mary" is imprinted on the front center of the altar.
The Carrara marble statue of our Blessed Mother was executed in
France and modeled after Raphael's Sistine Madonna. It dates from
The stained glass windows above the altar depict a common Marian
theme. From left to right, (1) St. Anne teaches the young Mary
how to read; (2) the birth of Jesus with his mother Mary and
foster father Joseph; and (3) Mary, crowned as Queen of Heaven.