Status: Worship site, Roman Catholic
21st Street & Snyder Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19145
Original visit: September 30, 2007
Subsequent visits: June 2014
Where Is It?
21st and Snyder, close to St. Monica.
South Philly, yo! Once more onto the breach, dear friends, this time to the tune of Snyder Avenue's St. Edmond.
St. Edmond is an interesting case study in structural excellence. How so?
- It's one of the few red-brick churches you'll see in this city. By brick, I mean the classic red-brick-and-white-mortar type. This city is full of red brick, but not so much when it comes to churches. They're surprisingly rare, and that makes St. Edmond a little special.
- It's also one of only a couple columned, cruciform Italian-Renaissance churches in this city. We have numerous Italian-Renaissance / Baroque designs, but almost none of them have both columns and a cruciform shape.
- The zipping, zagging honeycomb roof, if not one of the best we've seen, is certainly the most unique.
- There are actually two hidden shrines, one *behind* each side altar. Another feature that we haven't seen anywhere else.
The parish itself says it used to known as the "Cathedral of South Philly" when it was built, as a nod to its size, scope, and (I suspect) those aforementioned features. I don't know how true that is, but it's hard to argue that it's a place that does a lot of interesting things.
That said, the stained glass is on the plainer side, and in some unfortunate Pimp My Church developments, the altar rail is mostly gone, and the high altar itself replaced with a three-dimensional panorama of Jesus' crucifixion. Interesting, but not really classic and timeless.
All in all, though, it's a place that deserves a better fate than the one it's probably getting.
How's It Doing?
Given the parish's July 1, 2014 closure, not particularly well. It's being merged with the aforementioned St. Monica, and like all recent closures, will remain in use as a worship site. That's good news if you want to go and see it, but I wouldn't dally. The new worship site model is temporary at best, so I wouldn't put much stock in this building's long-term prospects.
South Philly bites because all of the thoroughfares there absolutely suck. If you live in the area, don't worry. If not, well, how badly do you want to come here?
You're a little too close to Point Breeze for my tastes, but I encountered no issues dealing with the church itself. Don't wander too far north, however.
Meh, see the list above.
The Final Word
That'll do, St. Edmond. That'll do.