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New York City: The Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral


About St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral:

Long before the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral that we all know, there was a smaller Cathedral with the same name. This is the original Cathedral of the Archdiocese of New York.

Altar in the Basilica of Old St Patrick's Cathedral
Altar in the Basilica

As Irish immigrants arrived here in the 19th Century, escaping first British persecution, and then the Irish Potato Famine, they were met with outright hostility. Often 10 or more people would live in a 2-room tenement apartment, and work was hard to find. Signs reading “No Irish Need Apply” greeted those looking for work, and the no-nothings and other groups often resorted to violence against Catholics.

In fact, eventually the Bishop had a wall built around the church, complete with gun slits, so that the building could be defended.

As time went on and the number of immigrants grew, the situation gradually improved, especially as the Irish began to exercise their right to vote and gained power over their own lives.

Over the years, St. Patrick’s has served an increasingly multi-ethnic flock, welcoming Catholics of Italian, Hispanic, Asian, and other origins. You can check their website for Mass schedules, etc.  The church is now known as the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood.

An interesting note about two of the graves here at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral:

The youngest of the visionaries who saw the apparitions in Knock, Ireland in 1917, is buried here.  Leaving Ireland for a better future, as so many did, he came to New York and lived as a laborer in obscurity for most of the rest of his life.

Headstone of John Curry in st patricks old cathedralNot long before his death, the hierarchy became aware of his presence and interviewed him long after the events. His memory was still as sharp as ever and he added some details that were not mentioned at the time of the apparition.  He died in 1943 at the age of 68, and was originally buried without a headstone in a communal cemetery plot owned by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Farmingdale, on Long Island.  In 2017, his body was moved to the cemetery here at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral and this time with a proper headstone.

You can read more about his story here.

Pierre Toussaint
Pierre Toussaint

The headstone for the grave of Venerable Pierre Toussant (1766-1853) is here as well.  Born in modern-day Haiti and then brought to New York City as a slave, he later became a free man, a renowned hairdresser to some of the highest in New York society, a great philanthropist, and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics.

He was buried here beside his wife, and although her body remains here, his body was moved to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.


Sheep at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral
Photo courtesy NY Catholic

And they have an unusual landscape crew named Hewey, Dewey and Louie.  they’re sheep……right here in the middle of New York City.

Here is a video showing their work. 



You might be also be interested in The Catacombs by Twilight Tour….here is more information.

Traveling to Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral:

Address: 263 Mulberry Street , New York, NY 10012

GPS coordinates: 40° 43′ 25.7124” N, 73° 59′ 44.4012” W

Tel: +1 (212) 226-8075

e-mail: check the “contact us” page on their website.

Click here for the official website of the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral

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