Churches of Baltimore's ethnic communities were a reflection on the land they left, and the culture they built in their new home. Immigrants sought a measure of familiarity in their churches, with many seeking to hear their own native language spoken during their worship experience. The Irish were a bit different, as most had a working knowledge of English and/or Latin, but the majesty of the altar and sanctuary were part of their spiritual experience.
St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church was known as the Railroader's Church, and the Mother Church of West Baltimore. Generations came and experienced the majesty of God and the works of his children as they entered the sanctuary, and many thousands reflected on the symbols of faith and life that were enshrined there.
As generations passed on, a more modern approach was favored by leadership at the Diocesan level, and treasures that were once considered both priceless and indispensable were dismissed to dry storage, or worse. Four great murals by Constantino Brumidi, who who had done work in the U.S. Capital building, did not seem to reflect modern sensibilities, and the lovely cherubs in the small arches in the back wall, modeled on John C. Norton, the son of a beloved local Physician, were thought to be dated and a bit remote. Wholesale changes were made by Catholic leaders, and the distinctness of a denomination, it was thought by many, were dismissed permanently.
The church itself was closed, and eventually sold to another denomination that had its own thoughts on decor. Thankfully the building itself had been designated as an historical site by government, and the beautiful stained glass windows were designated as part of the permanent outer structure. They have been preserved for our consideration, and reflection.
We're thankful for that.
Perhaps you will be able to join us for a future presentation on these windows. We call it
"A Glimpse Through Windows: View of an 1899 Irish Community"
Museum Director Luke McCusker and Museum volunteers will present the remarkable stories discovered through researching the beautiful stained glass windows of St Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. These windows have been preserved as part of the historic building. These events will be published on our Facebook page.
We'll introduce you to those who purchased these windows, and who they memorialized. They include City Detectives and more than one spinster!