The St. Patrick Catholic Church in Galveston
Galveston and Nicolas Clayton
St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Galveston is an attraction worth visiting if only to see the beautiful architecture. The tall Gothic spire of the church is an impressive sight on the Island City of Galveston.
It is another one of noted architect Nicolas J. Clayton's designs, of which he had more than a passing interest. He was a parishioner of this parish.
Nicolas Clayton was a native of Ireland who came to America with his widowed mother back in the early 1840s. Saint Patrick probably meant something special to him, as it does to many people living in Ireland who are now Christian due to the efforts long ago of St. Patrick and his followers who also taught about Christianity.
There are numerous churches on the island of Galveston—more than 50. They are of all denominations, plus, there are also two synagogues.
The number of people residing in Galveston is approximately 50,457, according to the World Population Review as of 2020. One can tell from these statistics that "Galvestonians" do love their places of worship!
Historically Significant Church
This beautiful church is one of sixty Galveston island buildings that have historical significance. A Texas Historical Commission plaque at this church states the following:
"ST. PATRICK CATHOLIC CHURCH
Galveston Bishop C.M. Dubuis established this parish in 1870 to serve Catholics in Galveston Island's fast-growing west end district. A wood sanctuary was built at this site and the mostly Irish congregation named the church for St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.
The Rev. Laurence Glynn arrived in 1871, a few days after storms had destroyed the sanctuary. He rallied the congregation and by 1877 an impressive Gothic structure, designed by noted architect and church member Nicholas J. Clayton, was completed. A parish school was established in the 1880's.
After the storm of 1900, the U.S. Corps of Engineers mandated that Galveston Island be elevated, and between 1905 and 1907 the massive St. Patrick church building was lifted five feet onto a new foundation.
Two mission churches were founded by St. Patrick Church. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church became its own parish in 1927, and Queen of Peach Church continued as a mission of St. Patrick Church. In the late 1980's the parish elementary schools were consolidated. The school facilities at St. Patrick were converted for parish offices, religious education, and social events. The congregation continues its traditional role as a leading Catholic institution for Galveston Island."
History of Saint Patrick
Speculation persists to this day as to the actual birth date or even death of St. Patrick. Most people celebrate his time of passing as March 17th. That is also the day celebrated around the world both in religious as well as secular fashion as Saint Patrick’s Day.
Stories are told of his being captured at a young age (around 16) by Irish raiders who then enslaved the boy. He then worked herding animals for about six years before he escaped and returned to his family back in Great Britain. He entered the church and became an ordained bishop.
Returning to Ireland, he was active in doing missionary work in the latter part of the 5th century, converting thousands of converts to the Christian faith. Many churches were built, and he is supposedly buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down. Even that is not a certainty.
Only two letters are authenticated as having been authored by St. Patrick, and those were not dated but can place him as to the approximate dates by other points of reference.
Legend Attributed to Saint Patrick
How many of us have heard the myth that St. Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland? Some stories seem to take on a life of their own, whether based on fact or myth.
According to many different accounts, there have never been any snakes in Ireland. So much for that legend! It probably has as much credence as stories about leprechauns.
Shamrocks and the Holy Trinity
Shamrocks and the color green are often associated with St. Patrick. It makes sense that any three-leafed plants could have sufficed when teaching the belief of the Holy Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are all the same God. So it is with clover or shamrock…the three leaves are separate but all connected as one entity.
How this translates to staining rivers green or pouring and drinking green-colored beer when celebrating St. Patrick’s day as often happens is a stretch. As pointed out earlier, St. Patrick’s day has become just another secular holiday for many people with little or no religious significance. Of course, for others, this is a saint who is dearly loved and revered.
Whether you follow the Catholic religion or not, be sure and stop by if visiting Galveston to admire this magnificent architecture. And if you care to attend a religious service, the doors will be wide open and welcoming!
St. Patrick Catholic Church is located at 1010 35th Street, Galveston, Texas 77550.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2020 Peggy Woods