St. Peter's Church in New Brighton, Staten Island

St. Peter's Church in New Brighton, Staten Island. Image 1

Before the establishment of St. Peter's in 1839, the Mass was not regularly celebrated on Staten Island. In fact, Catholics on the island had to travel to either St. Peter's in Manhattan or St. James's in Brooklyn if they wished to partake in the Mass on a regular basis. Bishop Hughes, after considering that the Catholic population on the island had grown to around 100 people, decided that a parish should be established on Staten Island. Father Ildelfonso Medrano, an exiled Spaniard, was assigned by the bishop as St. Peter's first pastor on April 1, 1839.

The Catholic population in Staten Island and the surrounding areas was so small that Father Medrano was responsible for the Catholics of Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, and Princeton, as well as Staten Island. The Spanish priest could only get to his various assignments on horseback. Father Medrano's first Mass for the parish of St. Peter's was celebrated in an abandoned gun factory; this setting though, was temporary. On March 25, 1844, the church was completed, and mass was celebrated for the first time on the Feast of the Annunciation during that year.

St. Peter's Church in New Brighton, Staten Island. Image 2

As St. Peter's grew, so did Catholicism on Staten Island. During the late 1840's, a quarantine hospital was built in Tompkinsville to house the thousands of Irish immigrants who contracted cholera on their way to America. Father Patrick Murphy, pastor of St. Peter's at the time, died from the same disease because he administered Last Rites to the many Catholics who died in this hospital. By 1856, the pastors of St. Peter's had directed the construction of a cemetery, a grammar school, and three other parishes in Staten Island. In the late 1890's, the original church burned down, but the spirit of St. Peter's parishioners ensured that a new church would soon be built. By Thanksgiving Day of 1903, the new and present neo-Romanesque church, designed by Harding & Gooch in 1900, was dedicated by Archbishop Farley. Since it is built upon a hill, the church can be seen from quite a distance. Many sailors have used St. Peter's bell tower as a reference point when at sea. The crockets point towards heavens, each having a Celtic cross as their finial. The church is located in the Saint George/New Brighton Historic District, as designated in 1994 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Contact info:
53 Saint Marks Pl,
Staten Island, NY 10301-1699