From the outside, this church may seem unremarkable, but taking a tour will reveal one of the world’s finest collections of Catholic relics dating back to its infancy. Many dates from early Christianity date to this 19th-century chapel and display dates back to its original Christian practice.
Harrisburg Cathedral stands out as one of the city’s most striking structures with its green copper dome dominating its skyline and architectural details combining Baroque Revival and Renaissance elements.
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia is one of Pennsylvania’s most breathtaking churches to visit, dating back to 1846-1864 and serving as head church of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This iconic structure boasts an ornate main altar with eight side altars lining its massive brownstone facade; eight side altars; an eighteenth side altar, large main chapel, crypt and green copper dome making up its stunning exterior design.
The church contains an array of religious relics dating back to the dawn of Christianity. Relics include Saint John’s head and Saint Paul’s remains; making this collection one of the second-largest outside of Vatican. Additionally, tours are free every hour for anyone wishing to explore further.
Heinz Memorial Chapel can be found on the University of Pittsburgh campus and was constructed by Henry John Heinz, founder of Heinz Company, to honor his mother. The interior features an eclectic blend of colonial American design with more ornate Catholic influences; interesting historical pieces include George Washington’s pew used during a visit and a baptismal font that traveled all the way from Europe in order to baptize William Penn’s family members.
History buffs won’t want to miss this historic church. Constructed between 1846 and 1864, it boasts six Verte Imperial marble columns on its facade that depict various biblical events; for instance, one depicts Melchizedek’s sacrifice and multiplication of loaves and fishes, while another shows Christ giving Peter keys to heaven as Prince of Apostles, while yet another shows Peter being crucified upside-down for believing he wasn’t worthy.
Heinz Memorial Chapel
Heinz Memorial Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh campus serves as a nondenominational place of worship, created as an expression of gratitude by family members to Anna Margaretta Heinz for being their mother. Designed by Charles Zeller Klauder, its neo-Gothic structure pays homage to beauty with an exterior reminiscent of Paris Sainte-Chapelle and Mont-St-Michel as well as interior luminous stained glass windows designed by Charles Connick – all an act of lasting homage.
Heinz Memorial Chapel welcomes people of all faiths, hosting over 1,000 events every year – such as religious services, weddings, concerts, lectures and guided tours. Its exquisite interior and exterior architecture have drawn millions of visitors from around the globe.
Heinz left money in his will for a building to commemorate both his mother’s spiritual influence on him as a child and her dedication to moral and ethical teachings that would set the basis of his adult life. He included only minimal language regarding this bequest stating simply that it should serve social activities and religious training programs.
Construction on Heinz Memorial Chapel began in August 1933 and by August 1934, 95% of the limestone walls had been installed. Even during this era of economic depression, Heinz Chapel was completed and dedicated in 1938; standing alongside it now-famous campus neighbor Cathedral of Learning as one of two educational skyscrapers globally at that time of completion.
The chapel’s recessed arch, the “tympanum,” pays homage to medieval pictorial instruction, as well as Heinz’s desire for spiritual teachings based on his Sunday school experiences. Additionally, Charles Connick created 23 stained glass windows depicting figures from both Old and New Testaments as well as notable individuals like Beethoven, Clara Barton Confucius Da Vinci and Ben Franklin – many with iconic faces such as them!
Heinz Memorial Chapel can be reached easily from downtown Pittsburgh using public transit, by taking a bus to its eastern edge on the University of Pittsburgh campus and walking a few blocks north from Schenley Park to Heinz Memorial Chapel. Other nearby attractions include Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Mellon Institute across Bellefield Avenue and St Paul Cathedral.
St. Anthony’s Chapel
Hidaway Cove lies quietly tucked into an unassuming neighborhood overlooking Pittsburgh. Without knowing exactly what to look out for, you might pass right by this one-of-a-kind place without ever realizing its unique value to Pennsylvania.
St. Anthony’s Chapel (or Shrine of Saint Anthony of Padua), located in Padua, holds an extraordinary collection of relics outside the Vatican – the largest such collection outside its walls! All started when Friar Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger began filling his chapel with saintly relics collected over time by Friar Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger himself.
Mollinger was an immigrant from Belgium who left his career as a doctor to devote himself to serving the church. Hearing of massive religious relics scattered around Europe needing homes, he started collecting them using his own funds – until his collection outgrew the confines of his home and built a chapel to house all.
Today, the chapel is open from 1-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays for private tours as well as guided tours by docents; should one not be available, an audio CD tour of the chapel can also be purchased.
The church itself is stunning; it features both early colonial architecture and ornate Catholic church design elements. Inside and out, its beauty stands out, yet what stands out most are its priceless relics.
Relics from several saints can be seen, and some are rare and exquisite. From pieces of hair and rings that once belonged to these holy figures.
Alongside its collection of relics, the chapel houses an incredible set of life-sized Stations of the Cross made entirely by hand in Germany – they make for a must-see experience!
Gloria Dei Church
Gloria Dei Church, commonly referred to as Old Swedes’ Church in Philadelphia, may not be one of its best-known structures but it’s definitely one of Philadelphia’s oldest and most historic structures. Constructed between 1698 and 1700 for Swedish settlers who would eventually join the Episcopal Church after 1845, Gloria Dei is recognized as a National Historic Site featuring many beautiful artifacts as well as its simple interior that captures its time-period style and churchyard that features Revolutionary War patriots such as William Penn himself!
Church is an iconic wedding location and the wedding registry dates from 1799-1856. Each entry in this book records all marriages that took place here; with dates, brides, and grooms named on each entry. Furthermore, this church boasts beautiful stained glass windows as well as an organ boasting over 4,400 pipes!
Philadelphia is beloved by so many. With a rich history dating back centuries and breathtaking churches that rank among some of the finest structures anywhere on the globe, Philadelphia should not be missed on your next trip to Pennsylvania. Be sure to stop by one of its stunning churches if possible!