Saint Leonard Church
Saint Leonard Church, founded in 1873, is the first Roman Catholic Church in New England built by Italian immigrants. Saint Leonard’s is known to many visitors for its Saint Anthony shrine located in the downstairs church.
In the year 1873, Archbishop Williams of Boston called upon the Franciscans of the Immaculate conception Province to minister to the spiritual needs of the Italian immigrants in Boston. Fr. Angelo Conterno, O.F. M. was the first Franciscan to work in the new harvest. Two years later, a lot of land situated on Prince Street, measuring seventy four by thirty feet, was purchased for a little less than $9,000. The foundations were then laid for the first Italian parish in the United States. In 1885, the work of clearing the additional land bought for the site of the new church began. In November of 1891, the basement of the new church was opened for public worship, after having been blessed by Arch bishop Williams. The number of parishioners then was close to twenty thousand. The upper church was built at the cost of $160,000 and was dedicated in November 1899. At the same time, the friary on North Bennet Street was built. During the years after 1910, the restoration of the upper church was undertaken and the Franciscan Sisters moved into the convent on 31 Prince Street. The fatal influenza epidemic of 1917-1919 had left many Italian children in the Boston area orphans. Fr. Anthony Sousa, who was Pastor of Saint Leonard’s at the time, founded the Home for Italian Children in Jamaica Plain which remains even to this day.
As a result of the reconfiguration that took place within the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004, Saint Leonard became the Parish Church encompassing Sacred Heart Italian Church as well as Saint Mary’s Chapel and Saint Stephen Church which remains under the Missionary Society of Saint James the Great, together they form the North End Catholic Community of Churches.
Sacred Heart Church
12 North Square
Boston, MA 02113
Sacred Heart Church Website
A house of worship has stood on the corner of Sun and Moon Streets in North Square, America’s oldest public square, since 1649. The first of two Congregational churches burned to the ground in 1678, the second in 1770. The present building was constructed in 1833 and for 38 years was the Seamen’s Bethel where sailors worshipped. the legendary sailor-preacher, Father Taylor, preached here and served as inspiration for Rev. Mapple in Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick. Melville made frequent visits to the Bethel. The Mariners’ House of the Boston Port and Seamen’s Aid Society, the original owners of the Bethel property, is still located at the same location in North Square.
In 1884, the building was purchased by a group of Italian immigrants who formed the Saint Mark Society. In 1888, the church was named Sacred Heart by Archbishop Williams. It was entrusted to the Scalabrini missionaries who came to America to minister to Italian immigrants. Sacred Heart Italian Church was the first church in Boston under the Congregation of Saint Charles Borromeo, whose Scalabrini Fathers staffed the church since its opening in 1889 until 2004.
Hundreds of thousands of faithful have benefited by the services offered by the Sacred Heart Parish. The majestic classic upper church with its vaulted ceiling is used on special occasions. The Nave of the upper church is an impressive space with marble columns supporting its magnificent frescoed ceiling.
The smaller devotional chapel downstairs is a splendid testimony to the piety and devotion which the early immigrants brought from Italy. The chapel is surrounded by shrines to St. Anthony, St. Lucy, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Therese, St. Rita, St. Jude, Poor Souls, St. Rosalie and the Pieta.
The Scalabrini Fathers departed from Sacred Heart Church in 2004. The church is now part of the parish of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice and is ministered to by the Franciscan Fathers.
Saint Stephen’s Church
401 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
A church has stood in this location since 1714. The first was the Middle Street Meeting House. Through some undocumented mishap, it had to be re-built 16 years later. It served the New North Congregational Society, of which Paul Revere and his father were members. That building lasted 70 years. The Society then commissioned the celebrated Charles Bulfinch to design and build a new church. Actually, it was an extensive restoration job using some of the old timbers. The work was completed in 1804 and it was dedicated on May 2. Its bell was cast by Paul revere. Less than a decade later, it became the Second Church, Unitarian.
In 1862, the Archdiocese of Boston acquired the church and renamed it St. Stephen’s in honor of Christianity’s first martyr. Since then, it has been serving the Catholics of Boston’s North End.
As a Catholic church, St. Stephens’s has seen many changes. Twice it has been ravaged by fire. The first in 1897, badly damaged the interior. The second in 1929, gutted the sanctuary. The interior was rebuilt under the direction of a 20th Century Charles Bulfinch, in keeping with his great-grandfather’s design.
St. Stephen’s was completely restored to its original Bulfinch design in 1965 by Richard Cardinal Cushing as a tribute to its great Christian heritage. In 1970, the Boston Soceity of Architects presented its award for Historic Preservation to Cardinal Cushing in recognition of his service to the whole community in restoring this historic building.
Since 1968, St. Stephen’s Church has been staffed by the Society of St. James the Apostle – an organization of diocesan priests who volunteer to serve the people of Latin America. It is their international headquarters.
Saint Mary’s Chapel
150 Endicott Street
Boston, MA 02113
Old North Church
193 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113
The Old North Church (officially Christ Church in the City of Boston) at 193 Salem Street was constructed in 1723 and features a steeple that is 191 feet high. At the time, the Church represented the strong Puritan beliefs of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. At the beginning of the Revolution, most of the Old North congregation were loyal to the King of England. However, the church is most well-known for when Robert Newman, church sexton, held two lanterns on April 18, 1775 giving the famous “one if by land, two if by sea” signal to Paul Revere that the British were going to Lexington and Concord by sea. Still standing next to Old North is the Clough House, built in 1712, and representative of colonial architecture. See the Old North Church on the Freedom Trail map.
Old North Church is an Episcopal Church and worships according to the Book of Common Prayer. Church services are held Sunday at 9am, and 11am. The 9am service is usually Rite 2 Eucharist without music. The service is about 45 minutes long. The 11am service is the main Sunday service. It is usually Rite 2 Eucharist with choir followed by coffee hour. This service lasts about one hour. Guests are welcome to worship at Old North Church.
9 Salutation Street
Boston, MA 02113
Boston Harbor Community Church finds it’s roots in a prayer meeting that met in homes in the early 1980’s. Moving from location to location, the group of people living in the North End began to grow. In 1984 the church was formed and began to meet at the Longwarf Marriot. In 1985 the church purchased the building at 9 Salutation Street and that is where the church meets today.
Boston Harbor Community Church (originally Boston Worship Center) was founded to create a place of ministry in the downtown neighborhoods. A place that would demonstrate the love of Christ and communicate His priorities to the community.
Since the founding of the church BHCC has had four pastors. The founding pastor was Tom Hinton (1984-1985). Gregg Detwiller followed from 1984 to 1997. Then Nick Fatato pastored from 1997 to 2006. Currently, we are privileged to have Dave and Beth Wenrich serving as pastors of BHCC.
The Boston Synagogue
55 Martha Road
Boston, MA 02114
Photos on this page by NorthEndBoston.com.
Information courtesy of respective institutions.
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