Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Hidden Gem of Saint Petersburg Florida.

If you visit the Saint Pete/Tampa area, there are a few churches worth checking out. I took a friend of mine over to Saint Mary, Our Lady of Grace, in downtown St. Pete the other day. I had the opportunity to take some photos, and I thought I would share them with you. One of the highlights of the church is the beautiful baldacchino. I found the history of the parish on their website, and I posted some of that information below. You can visit their website for the full history. Our next stop was over in Tampa at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which I will share with you soon on my next post. Enjoy!

The present St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Church was built in 1929 at a cost of $129,000. It stands majestically at the southwest corner of 4th Street South and 5th Avenue South on land purchased, in 1928, from the owners of the former estate of General Williams. The prperty dimensions are 200 feet by 210 feet. While construction for this third structure was underway, Mass was held in theatres and in private homes.

After seeing San Stefano Rotundo in Rome, Father O’Riordan envisioned building a round church in which the altar would be the central spiritual and architectural focus. He studied this idea with architect Henry Taylor but it was decided to build St. Mary’s in an octagonal shape.

St. Mary’s building, Byzantine in style with Romanesque features, has a brick exterior.   A.P.Hennessy and Sons was the contractor.

Built during the hard times of the Great Depression, the elaborate structure of St. Mary Our Lady of Grace is an amazing symbol of the people’s faith. It is a traditional church – reminiscent of those in the northern states and is unlike churches built later with modern designs. It seats 1,000 people.

The church’s foundation is rock solid, and her two-foot thick walls are made of solid brick. Underneath the decorative wood, the roof trusses are solid steel.

The magnificent Italian and German stained glass windows include a large rose window over the entrance to the church. The Florida sunshine streams through the colorful windows to form glowing patterns throughout the church. The building has seven balconies, numerous grand archways, and marble floors.

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