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St. Anthony of Padua Shrine

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1880; 1890–1891 addition. 1700 Harpster St.
  • Interior

In the late 1870s, Suibertus G. Mollinger, the Belgian-born pastor of Most Holy Name of Jesus Church in Troy Hill, faced a unique problem: he had to house the thousands of relics that he and his agents in Europe had acquired. In 1880, Mollinger used his personal inheritance to build St. Anthony's Chapel, a small domed cruciform structure. It attracted such throngs of pilgrims that it was enlarged in 1890 to its present size.

The chapel's brick and sandstone walls and twin square towers are a German version of the Romanesque Revival popular earlier in the century. Both the roof and octagonal spires are of slate-covered timber. The church fits comfortably in the neighborhood; it is attractive, solid, and substantial, if not spectacular. In contrast, the interior is flamboyant in a dazzling Baroque explosion of gold leaf and stained glass windows, with yet more gold in the monstrances and reliquaries. Life-size figures of the Stations of the Cross, imported from Munich, line the walls of the chapel. Behind and to the sides of the altar stand massive walnut cabinets, fashioned by local craftsmen, to house more reliquaries.

After World War II, the numbers of pilgrims declined, and by the 1970s, the shrine had fallen into disrepair. Restored and refurbished in 1977, the shrine attracts a swelling number of visitors, with a catalogue of the relics now on a computer database.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.
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Data

Timeline

  • 1880

    Built
  • 1890

    Addition
  • 1977

    Restored

What's Nearby

Citation

Lu Donnelly et al., "St. Anthony of Padua Shrine", [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-01-AL83.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 99-100.

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