Old St. Joseph's Church, Philadelphia, PA

Metadata

Title

Old St. Joseph's Church, Philadelphia, PA

Digital Identifier

Old St. Joseph's Church, Philadelphia, PA

Description

Old Saint Joseph’s Church, founded by Jesuits in 1733, was the first Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia. Its present building on Willings Alley was built in 1839 and is unique in having no entrance visible from the street. Because of the anti- Catholic and anti- foreign sentiment in the 19th century, this configuration saved the church, both the present building and the original chapel, during Nativist riots.

The first congregation was founded by English Jesuit, Rev. Joseph Greaton, S.J. (1679-1753) Mass was said in a small chapel in his residence. Old St. Joseph’s sacramental records, among the earliest in the nation, record 8,850 baptisms before 1810. The religious tolerance of the Quaker city of Philadelphia allowed the church to grow from its small initial congregation through three centuries to its present diverse and thriving parish.

Rev. Felix Joseph Barbelin, S.J. was a pastor and educator who founded Saint Joseph’s College while continuing the work of Father Greaton. He was born in Lunéville, Lorraine, France, May 30, 1808 and died in Philadelphia, Pa., June 8, 1869. After attending French schools and seminaries, he became a Jesuit in Maryland in 1831, and was ordained on Sept. 22, 1835. Father Barbelin was an avid promoter of Catholic Education in Philadelphia.

With a Catholic population in the city of 136,000, there was no Catholic secondary school or college. Two buildings fronting on Willings Alley were purchased and in 1851 the clergy house was expanded to Willings Alley and increased to four floors to accommodate a college. Father Barbelin was the first president. Both St. Joseph’s College and St. Joseph’s Preparatory School were founded by Father Barbelin, in 1851.

Saint Joseph’s College became Saint Joseph’s University and now houses the archives of Old Saint Joseph’s Church in their library, in Archives and Special Collections. The collection consists of papers, books, objects, photographs, and other materials related to the history of the church, the Jesuits and Catholicism in Philadelphia and neighboring areas, including sacramental records dating back to 1758.

Collection Items

Register of baptisms, almost entirely in Latin.

Register of baptisms, almost entirely in Latin.

Register of baptisms, almost entirely in Latin.

Register of baptisms, almost entirely in Latin.

Register of baptisms, almost entirely in Latin.

Register of baptisms, almost entirely in Latin.

Baptism and marriage register of Jesuit Father Rev. Ferdinand Steinmeyer (Farmer), who came to the colonies in 1752 to minister to German Catholics. He served at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia from 1758 until his death in 1786. In Latin.

Baptism and marriage register of Jesuit Father Rev. Ferdinand Steinmeyer (Farmer), who came to the colonies in 1752 to minister to German Catholics. He served at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia from 1758 until his death in 1786. In Latin.

Baptism and marriage register of Jesuit missionary Father Robert Molyneux, who became pastor of Old St. Joseph's and Old St. Mary's in 1771. Records appear in both the front and rear of this volume. In Latin.

Register of marriages at St. Joseph's Church. In Latin.

Register of marriages at St. Joseph's Church. In Latin. Includes index at rear.

Register of marriages at St. Joseph's Church. In Latin.
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