Status: Active, Roman Catholic
20th & Locust Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Original visit: March 16, 2008
Where Is It?
The Project is going downtown! 20th & Locust, near Rittenhouse Square.
St. Patrick is a really wonderful church, albeit a slightly strange one. We’ve seen a wide range of styles, but one thing is pretty much consistent — that a church maintains the same architectural style inside and out. For example, Gothic exterior, Gothic interior.
St. Patrick is different because its interior and exterior seem to come from two totally different architectural schools of thought. The exterior appears to sway toward a handsome Italian-Renaissance style, as indicated by the Corinthian-style columns and moldings that mark the exterior.
But inside, St. Patrick eschews the plaster, murals and flat roof for stone, brick and a vaulted, semi-circular roof. It feels more Romanesque than anything else, with a little bit of a Tweener Church aura to boot. A lot of clean lines and angles here.
That said, it all works wonderfully. It may not be dripping with ornamentation, but St. Patrick’s is still very beautiful, especially in the gold-tiled apse, and the appropriately grandiose size increases the majesty of it all.
Also, it’s worth noting that St. Patrick’s lower church is a shrine-encrusted, green-marbled powerhouse. I’ve never hid my disdain of lower churches, but as far as they go, this is one of the best ones.
Look for it: There are Irish elements thrown into almost every interior element, such as Celtic-designs on the pillars and lamps, and a pair of enormous, green marble holy water fonts at the entrance.
All in all, the Project is a big fan.
How's It Doing?
Splendidly. St. Patrick is located at 20th & Locust, in the heart of polished, professional and prosperous Rittenhouse Square. Their average weekly attendance has also skyrocketed in recent years, and by last count was over 1,000.
It’s Center City, so you’ve got one-way streets and difficult parking. Unless you’re prepared to buckle down and suffer, public transit might be easier.
As noted above, Rittenhouse Square is excellent. You shouldn’t have any problems.
St. Patrick’s pews are unique in that they don’t have a solid wooden back, but instead, use intermittent wooden slats. They’re still sturdy, but it’s like nothing the Project has ever seen.
Interior photos taken December 2012. Click to enlarge!
The Final Word
A great church.