The religious heritage trail of Philadelphia

By | Category: Travel destinations
the Arch  Street  House has links to the founder of Philadelphia - William Penn

the Arch Street Meeting House has links to the founder of Philadelphia – William Penn

When the Quaker, William Penn, founded Philadelphia, as a “City of Brotherly Love” that would be open to people of all faiths little did he know how the city would entwine its history and religious freedom.

Here are eight places that combine the two aspects and which should be on anyone’s visit list when going to Philadelphia.

Arch Street Meeting House

On land originally deeded by William Penn in 1701, the  Quaker meeting house was built in 1804 and has been altered only twice since then.

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
Opened since 1864, this beautiful cathedral is modelled after the Lombard Church of Saint Charles in Rome. The vaulted ceiling looms 80 feet above the marble floor and the magnificent stained glass helps illuminate one of the biggest pipe organs in Philadelphia.

Christ Church and Burial Ground

Known as the “Nation’s Church,” this is where George Washington and Betsy Ross once worshipped. It is also the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin, who worshipped here as well. The beautiful two-acre burial ground on site is one of the country’s most important Colonial and Revolutionary-era cemeteries, with over 1,400 markers.

Miraculous Medal Shrine

Take in the beautiful murals, statues and stained glass that depict the story of Mary’s appearance to St. Catherine Labouré. The shrine also holds the only relic the Blessed Mother is believed to have touched in America: a piece of cloth from a chair she once occupied. There is also a museum, which holds over 500 pieces of religious art from Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany and China, some of which dates as far back as 1653.

Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Visit one of the oldest churches in the country, built in 1792, which is also the oldest church continuously owned by African Americans. The museum inside houses 19th-century artefacts and a collection of archives that include original copies of The Christian Recorder, the oldest existing African American periodical in the country, which started publication before the Civil War.

Saint John the Evangelist

This Roman Catholic church towers in the heart of the city and celebrates its 185th anniversary this year. St. John Neumann was consecrated here in 1852. Dubbed the priest of the working class, he helped to build 90 churches and 40 schools as the Bishop of Philadelphia. (You can also see a shrine honouring St. John Neumann at St. Peter the Apostle Parish at 1019 North Fifth St.)

St. Georges United Methodist Church

This methodist church has been in existance for over 245 years making it the oldest methodist church in the United States. They still possess, in their museum, the handwritten journal of first minister, Joseph Pilmoor, which daes bback to the 1770’s.

Synagogue of the American Revolution

Properly called Congregation Mikveh Israel, this is the oldest formal congregation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the oldest continuous synagogue in the United States. Dating back to 1740, people originally met in homes until the first building opened during the middle of the American Revolution in 1782.

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