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The St. Patrick Catholic Church in Galveston, Texas

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Galveston and Nicolas Clayton

St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Galveston, Texas is an attraction worth visiting to see the beautiful architecture if nothing else. 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, in 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 Christians 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:


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."

Three young men inside ruins of St. Patrick church, following a violent hurricane in the year 1900 which devastated Galveston and took more than 5,000 lives.

Three young men inside ruins of St. Patrick church, following a violent hurricane in the year 1900 which devastated Galveston and took more than 5,000 lives.

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.

A statue of St. Patrick

A statue of St. Patrick

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 dyeing 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.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 20, 2020:

Hi Paul,

That must have been a feat raising that church five feet from where it once stood. I am sure that it is probably easier to do today than it would have been in the past. Galveston is a great Texas city full of attractions. I am pleased that you enjoyed this article.

Paul on August 20, 2020:

The history of Galveston never ceases to amaze. Well researched article. Hard to believe following the 1900 storm this structure could be raised five feet.

Robert Sacchi on May 31, 2020:

Thanks, it's hard to wrap around the fact I don't have somewhere to go tomorrow,

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2020:

Concentrate on the upside, and hope a new job comes along soon. Good luck to you!

Robert Sacchi on May 30, 2020:

Thank you. I appreciate the though. What annoys me is they'll be eating my leave time. I can get money from other sources but the leave time takes a long time to accumulate. The upside is I can get a job with another company without feeling I'm giving up something.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 29, 2020:

Hi Robert,

My sincere wishes to you for a successful job search in the days ahead or a swift recall for employment in your current job. So many people are being affected by the pandemic and economy. I will add you to my thoughts and prayers.

Robert Sacchi on May 29, 2020:

Yea, I got furloughed today. I hate looking for work.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 29, 2020:

Hi Robert,

I think that most people will be holding back on superfluous purchases right now, with the economic downturn affecting a majority of people. Thanks, however, for the thought.

Robert Sacchi on May 28, 2020:

Amazon and other onlines sites perhaps?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Thanks. Of course, with the pandemic in full swing, I doubt that much art will be selling for some time to come.

Robert Sacchi on May 27, 2020:

Fantastic! Great going!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 27, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Several sites in Galveston sell my linocuts. Thanks for asking. I also have a gallery here in Houston that represents my art.

Robert Sacchi on May 26, 2020:

You're welcome and thank you for posting. How is your linocut hobby going?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for reading this article about the church in Galveston as well as the saint by the same name.

Robert Sacchi on May 25, 2020:

I see you used one of your linocuts in the article. It compliments the article well. It's a good history lesson of the church, Galveston, and St. Patrick.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

I am sorry to hear that you needed to be hospitalized. Feel better soon!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 07, 2020:

This is a beautiful church with a very interesting history. This is a very interesting article, Peggy. I am a bit behind on my reading as I just got out of the hospital but it was not for COVID 19.

I would love to tour this church if I ever get that far south again.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Art Linkletter capitalized on featuring things that children said, and often, it was funny. Your trip sounds like it would have been one creating fond memories.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 06, 2020:

My family and I toured the church where St. Patrick was supposedly buried and the tour guide explained that he was a slave. The group was largely international and we were among the only Americans. My precocious 7 year old piped up and asked if St. Patrick was Black. We cringed and the other travelers kinda laughed. Not Catholic but we are definitely Irish and will always remember good old St. Patrick.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2020:

Hi Bill,

The Gothic architectural style has been used by many builders over the centuries. It is beautiful. It seems apt that your brother got his name being born on St. Patrick's Day.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

I also admire anyone who tries to make the world a better place, no matter what religion they follow.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on May 02, 2020:

What a beautiful church. The gothic architecture reminds me of the church’s one would find throughout Europe. And I love the linocut you created. Beautiful! Even though my family is Italian my brother was born on St. Patrick’s day and is appropriately named Patrick.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 02, 2020:

I am not Catholic, but I always wear green on ST Patrick's Day. And I do admire anyone who attempts to make the world better and spreads the word of God. Very charming read.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2020:

Hi Liz,

You have to admire the Irish for capitalizing on the green theme and items related to St. Patrick. I am sure that they sell many souvenirs of those items.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2020:

Hi Bill,

That type of Gothic architecture is beautiful to my eye also. The Catholic Church and school that I attended as a child was called St. Joan of Arc, and it was in Okauchee, Wisconsin.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 02, 2020:

It's amazing how much influence St. Patrick has had. I was struck by it when I visited Ireland where I noticed a lot of shamrocks and green items in gift shops.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

There do seem to be an abundance of legends regarding St. Patrick as well as those about Ireland. As to why the number of places of worship in Galveston, I cannot answer with any authority.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 02, 2020:

I went to St. Patrick Church and school in Tacoma as a youngin! Beautiful structure, yours and mine. I am a big fan of that type of architecture.

Lorna Lamon on May 02, 2020:

I enjoyed this article Peggy and this is truly a beautiful church. There have been many myths surrounding this Irish icon, in a land famous for its legends and 'little folk'.

Clayton's designs are stunning and Galveston certainly has an abundance of places to worship, I wonder why.