For many people, a visit to the Vatican in Rome is a pilgrimage, an opportunity to experience the very heart and history of the Catholic Church. But, what many people might not realize is an incredibly unique chapel in Pittsburgh,
St. Anthony’s, houses 5,000 Christian relics, the largest public collection in the world.
An historic part of Troy Hill since 1883, St. Anthony's Chapel has a rich and storied history. Its construction is the direct result of Father Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger.
Mollinger, born of privilege in Belgium, traveled extensively prior to settling in Pittsburgh. He studied medicine in several European countries and entered the seminary in Ghent before moving abroad to the United States in 1854.
By 1857, Mollinger had officially entered the priesthood and moved to a parish in Erie on the instructions of the Catholic Diocese. He eventually landed at a parish in Pittsburgh in 1868.
Father Mollinger quickly gained a reputation within the community for his steadfast dedication to caring for those in need with St. Anthony's Chapel today attesting that he helped as many as 150 people each day.
Before the construction of St. Anthony's Chapel, Father Mollinger had already acquired his own collection of Christian relics but he believed he could save more from becoming lost as Europe went through a tumultuous political upheaval.
Father Mollinger returned to Europe in 1880 and purchased, with his own savings, thousands of relics from churches throughout Europe. But, his efforts didn't stop there. He used the money he had inherited and funded the construction of St. Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, designed to serve local parishioners and to house the relics he had rescued.
St. Anthony's Chapel opened its doors in 1883 and, with the largest public collection of Christian relics, has become a pilgrimage site for many. The collection is categorized as “active” with new relics being added as they become available.
Visitors will have the privilege to view such relics as a piece of the cross on which Christ was crucified.
A saint's skull.
The bones of Saint Demetrius.
The bones of numerous other saints.
A relic from Virgin and Martyr Saint Thecla.
A relic of Saint Leo.
St. Anthony's Chapel welcomes all visitors to normally scheduled services as well as Saturday through Thursday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The chapel, which offers free parking, is located at 1704 Harpster Street.
St. Anthony’s, an incredibly unique chapel in Pittsburgh, provides a rare glimpse into the Catholic Church’s history. But, St. Anthony’s isn’t the only beautiful church in our city. These
10 churches in Pittsburgh will leave you absolutely speechless.