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Best Religious Sites in Philadelphia

By: Cityseeker
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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Due to its spellbinding architecture and sheer grandeur, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is a must-visit place on the list of every tourist in Philadelphia. This beautiful cathedral is the centerpiece of one of the largest Catholic populations in North America. It was designed by celebrated architect Napoleon LeBrun and constructed between 1846 and 1864 by blending Palladian and Italian Renaissance architectural styles. A beautiful “baldachin” or “canopy” over the altar is evidence of the Italian influence while the church façade is in the Palladian style. In fact, you may be forgiven for thinking you are in Europe while viewing this glorious cathedral. Embark on an audio tour and learn more about its eight chapels, 2000-seat sanctuary, vaulted copper dome, and a spectacular apse featuring red marble carvings and stained glass work. During the tour, you will also be familiarized with the fascinating history of the basilica. As Pennsylvania's largest Catholic church, this monument is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the first A.M.E. church in the world. It was founded by free American blacks in the 1700s. The current building was constructed in 1889 and occupies the same location as three previous structures. Stained glass windows feature masonic and religious themes and the shrine of the church contains the tomb of Bishop Allen, his wife Sarah and Bishop Morris Brown. Purchased by Richard Allen in 1791, this site is the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African Americans. The Richard Allen Museum contains 19th century artifacts from the church. Traditionally, all other A.M.E. churches are designed along the plans of this building.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church

The Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church is the only remaining Colonial Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and has an interesting history. Old Pine's first Pastor, George Duffield, served as chaplain to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and, with many of his parishioners, joined General Washington at Valley Forge in the winter of 1776-77. Old Pine soon became known as the "Church of the Patriots." Early members included John Adams and Dr. Benjamin Rush. William Hurry, who was the first to read the Declaration of Independence, is buried in the churchyard.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia

Rita of Cascia was born in Italy in 1386. At the age of twelve, she was married to an abusive man and was forced to endure his rage until his death eighteen years later. Rita delighted in her two sons until they also died; she then entered a convent and devoted herself to Christ. Rita is worshipped as the "Saint of the Impossible" and the "Saint of Desperate Causes." In 1907, George Lovatt built this Renaissance-style church in Philadelphia. It has become a national center of devotion to St. Rita.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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National Shrine of St. John Neumann

National Shrine contains the tomb of St. John Neumann, a Redemptorist priest and the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. St. John was born in Bohemia and moved to the United States, where he was later ordained. St. John is remembered as the founder of Catholic education in America, and for his compassion toward immigrants. He learned to speak several languages so he could listen to confessions in at least six languages. His remains lie under the altar where daily mass is offered.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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Gloria Dei Church

Built between 1698-1700, Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church survives today as the oldest church in Pennsylvania. The church is known as Old Swedes because Swedish pioneers were the first to settle the area in 1646. There is a fine collection of religious historical and religious artifacts the church has acquired over three centuries, including bronze crosses and 18th Century bibles in Swedish and English. The building itself is a perfectly preserved example of 18th Century public architecture. Today the church is still owned and maintained by its congregation of Episcopalians. The church is part of the Independence National Historical Park system.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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Morris Arboretum

This 92-acre public garden is populated with rare, exotic and large trees presented in four different environments: The English Park, Rose Garden, Swan Pond and Japanese Garden all offer a multitude of species and phylum of plants specific to each area. The generally Victorian tone of the gardens radiates a sense of romance and natural splendor. University of Pennsylvania students conduct botanical experiments and studies that are also on display.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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