St. Patrick’s Church (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

Our second mass that we attended in the US was held in St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C. We have just finished hanging around the National Mall and looking at museums and, it being a Saturday, we needed a spot nearby for mass, so we all proceeded here, arriving in time for the 5:30 PM service.

St. Patrick’s Church

St. Patrick’s Church, the oldest parish in the Federal City of Washington, D.C., was founded in 1794 to minister to the needs of the Irish immigrant stonemasons building the White House and the U.S. Capitol. One of the first church buildings in the new Federal City, the initial structure on the present property was a simple frame chapel/residence. Its first pastor was Irish Dominican Fr. Anthony Caffry.  The multi-talented Fr. William Matthews, the first American to be ordained a priest in the United States, was named its pastor in 1804.

Historical plaque

The second church, built with brick and reputedly a design of parishioner James Hoban, the architect of the White House, was dedicated in 1809. In 1814, British soldiers attended Sunday mass here when they invaded the Capital and burned its public buildings. The brick church was embellished with the city’s first pipe organ, a gift pulpit from Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil, and a painting from Charles X of France.

The church interior

The present grand Gothic-style church was begun in 1872, under fourth pastor Fr Jacob Walter’s direction, and finally dedicated in 1884. In 1895, the church was the venue for the First National Eucharistic Congress. In 1904, the present English Gothic-style rectory and school building were completed by Fr. Denis Stafford and dedicated by Cardinal James Gibbons and Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. On September 24, 2015, Pope Francis visited St. Patrick’s Church during his tour of the United States.

The pipe organ at the choir loft

St. Patrick’s Church: 619 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: (202) 347-2713. Website: www.saintpatrickdc.org. Mass schedule: weekdays (12:10PM), Saturdays (12:10PM and 5:30PM) and Sundays (8AM, 10PM and 12 noon).

How to Get There: the nearest metro is the Gallery Pl-Chinatown