Status: Worship Site, Roman Catholic
6th & Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Original visit: April 6, 2012
Where is it?
6th & Pine, in Society Hillllllllll.
Enter Holy Trinity, the third oldest Roman Catholic church around, and the first German national parish in the entire country, Holy Trinity actually ceased being a parish a few years back. Fortunately, it lives on as a worship site for neighboring Old St. Mary’s.
Good, you say? Oh yes, because Holy Trinity is a nice piece of antique churching.
I suppose the most notable thing about it is the sanctuary, which is not comprised of separate altar pieces, but instead features one gigantic altar structure spanning the entire thing. A one-of-a-kind piece, to be sure, and it works well, giving the sanctuary a nice bit of dramatic heft. The use of color and statuary calls to mind Our Lady Help of Christians, so it’s probably a German affectation.
Elsewhere, we get a non-cleaving (though very large) choir loft, German stations of the cross, a graveyard, and, perhaps most interestingly, rounded corners in the front. Yep, the church isn’t perfectly rectangular.
Oh, and I should mention this:
How the $#%@ do I get in here? It’s not hard, but not particularly prominent, either, especially since the rounded rear-end is what faces the busy 6th & Spruce intersection.
So, it’s not big or dripping with ornamentation, but as far as Roman Catholic period pieces go, I think I like it far better than either Old St. Joseph’s or Old St. Mary’s. Not bad for an Old vs. Older Church dating to 1789, no?
How’s It Doing?
Holy Trinity spent a lot of time in Old St. Mary's bullpen, used only sparingly for holydays and other special occasions. Fortunately, that's now changed. The Holy Trinity Traditional Latin Mass Community has appropriated Holy Trinity for their uses, and holds high mass here at noon every Sunday. It's good for the church, which gets the regular work it so richly deserves, and it's good for Latin mass aficionados, who get another outlet.
Hopefully that support helps, because Old St. Mary continues to be way too small for the Project’s liking. I’d like to think the historical value is enough to keep both around — but then again, I’d also like a million dollars and my own Hawaiian island. I’ve seen enough of the Archdiocese’s antics to know exactly what they think of historical value.
(Read: not much.)
Again, same as Old St. Mary’s. Society Hill / Washington Square West is pretty uniformly excellent. Travel? Well, walking, biking, or public transit is your best bet. Anything else? God help you.
Did I mention the rounded corners at the front? I did?
The Final Word
Well worth your time.