text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia



St. Mary's Church

Old St. Mary's Church, founded in 1763 was the first Roman Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Philadelphia (1810-38) and was enlarged in 1810 and renovated in 1963. Although St. Joseph's Church was founded first, the present building of St. Mary's is older than that of St. Joseph's. Washington, who certainly showed no favoritism when it came to attending services, worshiped here as well as at Christ Church and St. Peter's

Along the north wall of its burial ground are found the graves of the early Bouviers. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' great-great grandfather Michel Bouvier (1792-1874), the first of the family to come from France, and his descendants all lie beneath the vault. Thomas FitzSimons, signer of the Constitution, member of the Continental Congress and Representative in the first three Congresses of the United States; Stephen Moylan, a general officer in the Revolution and aide-de-camp to Washington all lie in this old and historic burial ground.

On July 4th, 1779, on the third annivarsary of it's passage, the first public religious commemoration of the Declaration of Independence was held at St. Mary's. The War for Independence was still underway, but on November 4th, 1781, the French and American armies celebrated their shared victory ofver Great Britain with a special mass at St. Mary's

Here, too, is the grave of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803), "Father of the American Navy." Barry was personally selected by President George Washington to be the commander of the naval forces of the new American nation. The commodore supervised the construction of the first frigates built under the Naval Act of 1794, including his flagship, a forty-four gun frigate dubbed the USS United States.



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