Monday, November 17, 2008

My New Home

.....The majority of the neighborhood's original settlers were either German or Irish descent. Rivalry between the ethnic groups was intense for newly immigrated to the United States who were not only vying for status within the community but also for the limited number of blue-collar jobs that were available at the time. The Irish were especially close knit and generally did not welcomed anyone but their own into their churches. At the corner of Riverside and Gittings Street stands St. Mary, Star of the Sea, which was built in 1871.

The Irish in the neighborhood established this Parish at atime when the Catholic Church of America was obligated to create new parishes and new orders of priests and teaching nuns as a means of coping with the differences between rival ethnic groups. In the evening, after work, the parishioners would arrive at this site with picks and shovels in-hand to dig the building foundation. Bricklayers, carpenters, and general laborers were then enlisted to deal with the actual construction of the Church. Most of the original interior furnishings (including the marble flooring) came from Europe. The entire project was financed by staging street fairs, carnivals, strawberry festivals and harvest homes. By 1900, the construction debt had been paid in full.

In the 1960's in an effort to stem the tide of decreasing attendance, the Vatican issued an edict for the "modernization" of all Catholic Churches. Adeep division between the younger parishioners of St. Mary's and their elders developed. A furor erupted when most of the beautiful and valuable orginal European furnishings were damaged or removed.

Fortunately, many of the artifacts, inluding the original altar, have recently been recovered and a major interior restoration project at St. Mary's began in 2002. For the first time in nearly 40 years. visitors can view the beautiful marble blue star that was originally installed in the floor of the Church just beyond the main foyer. This installation was meant to compliment the blue beacon installed in the Churches tower, which was lit to welcome home returning Irish sailors. The beacon has long been considered a Baltimore landmark.

*from Federal Hill online

1 comment:

stephanie said...

Very beautiful! And the neighborhood now has another Irishman. #:)