Church of St. Paul the Apostle

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Church of St. Paul the Apostle

The Church of St. Paul the Apostle is a substantial Roman Catholic church on Columbus Avenue between 59th and 60th streets, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York. It is the mother church of the Paulist Fathers, the first order of Roman Catholic priests founded in the United States.

The Late Gothic Revival-style church was built between 1876 and 1884 with Tarrytown granite to designs by Jeremiah O'Rourke and the Rev. George Deshon. The building was dedicated on January 25, 1885.

The architect O'Rourke died before plans were complete and work was finished by the Rev. Deshon. The Paulist Fathers' founder Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker may have had a hand in its design, using the thirteenth-century Cathedral of Santa Croce, Florence as a model.

It contains interior elements designed between 1887-1890 by Stanford White and many large decorated side chapels. Later stained glass windows were added by John LaFarge. Other artists who worked within include Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Frederick MacMonnies; Stanford White and Bertram Goodhue both offered advice on design elements.

The New York Daily Tribune reviewed the architecture as "vast, plain, fortress-like in its solidity—almost repelling in the aesthetic cast without and within, yet it is the most August, unworldly interior of this continent."

The sarcophagus of Hecker is located in the northeast corner of the nave. Other Paulist Fathers are entombed in crypt off a chapel on the lower level of the church.

The life of the parish has mirrored the growth, decline and rebirth of the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. It was largely impacted by creation of the Lincoln Center just two blocks to the north. The parish opened an elementary school in 1886 and a high school in 1922. The parish's last school closed in 1974.

Today, the parish, with six Masses each Sunday, has a large young professionals community and a Spanish-speaking community. It also hosts a bookstore and gift shop at the east end of the nave.

The large church basement has been used as a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, rehearsal space for The Rockettes and for boxing matches.