Saint Anthonys Chapel, Pittsburgh
Categories: Churches, Tourist Spots
Saint Anthony Chapel is home to the largest collection of publicly venerable Christian relics – 5,000 in total – in the world outside of the Vatican.Before you head to Pittsburgh, plan trip itinerary details with our user-friendly Pittsburgh tourist route planner, to make sure you see all that Pittsburgh has to offer, including Saint Anthonys Chapel.
The chapel and its relics were the personal property of Suitbert Goedfried Mollinger (1828-1892), a Belgian-born royal/physician-turned-priest who gained an international reputation as a source of hope and healing. While practicing medicine in his twenties, Mollinger discerned a vocational calling to the priesthood. As a seminarian, he left Europe to serve as a missionary in the United States, where he would later be ordained and eventually settle in what is today known as the Troy Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Due to his personal financial standing – and, let’s face it, the Holy Spirit – Fr. Mollinger was in a position to ransom a large number of relics that were both suddenly and unfortunately available on the open market as a result of political and cultural upheavals throughout Europe during the mid-to-late 1800s. To house the relics, Fr. Mollinger singlehandedly financed the chapel’s construction, which was built in two phases: the original chapel, also known as the “The Shrine of the Saints” because it houses nearly the entirety of Fr. Mollinger’s relic collection, was dedicated in 1883, while the chapel’s annex, also known as “The Way of the Cross" because it houses the chapel’s life-size wooden statues of the Stations of the Cross, was dedicated in 1892; Fr. Mollinger ensured that dedication of each phase would occur on June 13, the feast day of the chapel’s patron, St. Anthony of Padua.
In addition to his duty as pastor of Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish, which is located across the street from the chapel, Fr. Mollinger leveraged his training as a medical doctor to tend to the physical needs of his congregation, as well as anyone else who sought his attention. He fashioned a clinic out of a room of his rectory, in which he would see and treat over 100 patients on a given day; he refused to accept payment for his services. After tending to the patient’s physical needs, Fr. Mollinger would pray over the patient, touching his or her body with a relic from his collection. Additionally, his healing services, which were typically held on the Feast of St. Anthony, drew tens of thousands of pilgrims from across North America and beyond.
It is believed that during his time on Troy Hill, Fr. Mollinger treated over 325,000 patients and wrote over 80,000 prescriptions. Many of his patients claimed the be the recipients of miraculous healings; in fact, over 300 canes, crutches, and other walking apparatuses were found in and around the chapel, presumably left there by people who, upon being seen by Fr. Mollinger, no longer had need for them.
Fr. Mollinger fell gravely ill on June 13, 1892, the day of the chapel’s rededication, and died two days later in his rectory.
The chapel, its founder, and its treasures serve as tangible proof of the truly amazing things that God can do through even just one of us.
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This church is beautiful, the items on display are amazing, not just for Catholics, but also for the curious as well as the history buffs. My only complaint was that the "tour" that we sat through was... read more »
St. Anthony Chapel is located in the Troy Hill neighborhood which overlooks the Allegheny River on Pittsburgh's north side. This shrine is dedicated to " the wonder worker" St Anthony of Padua and hou... read more »
We have all heard of the religious and historical treasures housed at Saint Anthony's. Do not tour this site without a docent. Our docent Carol was professional, knowledgeable, and a joy to spend time... read more »
One of America's most well hidden gems. St. Anthony's Chapel has over 5,200 Holy Relics, including pieces of the Crown of Thorns, the Holy Cross, and the table at which the Last Supper was held. Second only to the Vatican in collection of Holy Relics, you would be doing yourself a great favor in visiting this chapel once. There are tours constantly. Visit the gift shop across the street.
Wow. As soon as I stepped foot in the chapel an enormous amount of tranquility came over me. I'm not particularly religious, and originally came here to do a story on the place; It was kindof disappointing that the story flopped due to their no photo/video policy and I wasn't able to visually share this greatness with others, but it was definitely understandable considering the peace of the atmosphere alone. It's something you can only appreciate first hand. I walked in and marveled at the relics, listened to the tour, and then sat in complete silence and peace for a good 45 minutes, and it was the best moment of silence I've ever had. I consider this one of Pittsburgh's most precious hidden gems.
Simple exterior, extraordinary inside. The story behind the priest, his he came across the relics, the relics themselves - everything is just amazing. There are life size wooden statues of the Stations created from wood from Bavaria - the best. Please note, that they do ask that you do not take pictures or videos. Apparently some people find it irresistible to do so, but please be respectful and do not take pictures or videos, no matter how tempting it is especially when facing first class relics from Jesus, St. Mary, St. Joseph, and the Apostles among others.
Oh wow do they have a lot of relics. The man doing the tour seemed very angry (passionate) though and at times felt like he was talking down to people or even calling everyone out for not knowing more about the church. He was still informative. I'm not religious and I thought it was great. You should check it out for educational purposes even if you're not religious. Very cool place.
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