The Basilica of St Mary Star of the Sea – Miami, Florida

The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, Windsor Lane, Key West, Florida, Združene države Amerike

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Florida, Key West: St Mary Star of the Sea

Parish of the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea in what is now the Archdiocese of Miami. One of the oldest Parish established in what is now the State of Florida. 

First Catholic School in the State of Florida, which continues today. National and State designated historic site. A site of regional and national pilgrimage

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See top 15 Catholic shrines around the worldThe Basilica of St Mary Star of the Sea - Miami, Florida

The Stations of the Cross Garden

The Stations of the Cross Garden is yet another wonderful example of how the natural beauty of our small island and symbols of our faith come together to show the power and the sacrifice our Lord endured for each of us.

A rock garden behind the Convent and Renewal Center was transformed into a Stations of the Cross Garden, which was blessed by Bishop Felipe Estevez, Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, on December 12, 2004.

The Basilica of St Mary Star of the Sea - Miami, Florida

The Stations are constructed of carrera marble with mosaics of the scene for each station, all framed in bronze, illuminated with night lights, and placed within a tropical garden.

At the entrance of the Garden is a marble corpus on a wooden crucifix with a marble image of Our Lady of Sorrows looking on.

The architecture of the St Mary Star of the Sea

Kenny, D.D., Bishop of Saint Augustine. The architect was Brother Cornelius Otten, S.J.

Originally from Holland, Brother Otten was instrumental in the design and construction of many Churches served by the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province throughout the South East United States.

Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church was under the Province’s jurisdiction at that time.

The Basilica of St Mary Star of the Sea - Miami, Florida

The present altar of sacrifice in the Church was consecrated and the present liturgical furnishings were blessed by Archbishop Edward McCarthy of Miami on December 17, 1992.

Upon completion of a major restoration under the supervision of an historic preservation architect.

The Stations of the Cross Garden

The Stations of the Cross Garden is yet another wonderful example of how the natural beauty of our small island and symbols of our faith come together to show the power and the sacrifice our Lord endured for each of us.

A rock garden behind the Convent and Renewal Center was transformed into a Stations of the Cross Garden, which was blessed by Bishop Felipe Estevez, Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, on December 12, 2004. The Stations are constructed of carrera marble with mosaics of the scene for each station, all framed in bronze, illuminated with night lights, and placed within a tropical garden. At the entrance of the Garden is a marble corpus on a wooden crucifix with a marble image of Our Lady of Sorrows looking on.

This Garden has become a place of prayer for groups during the season of Lent and for individuals night and day throughout the year. Adjacent to a refectory used by the Parish for social events, this Garden, along with the seating in the refectory, is used for the three extra Masses on Easter Sunday. An estimated six hundred participants may worship in this place.

The architecture of the St. Mary Star of the Sea

Kenny, D.D., Bishop of Saint Augustine. The architect was Brother Cornelius Otten, S.J. Originally from Holland, Brother Otten was instrumental in the design and construction of many Churches served by the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province throughout the South East United States. Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church was under the Province’s jurisdiction at that time.

The furnishings, statuary and the Church building itself suffered from the ravages of time, climate and pestilence. However, due to much care over the past century in various restoration efforts, the Church has retained its inherent beauty. The present altar of sacrifice in the Church was consecrated and the present liturgical furnishings were blessed by Archbishop Edward McCarthy of Miami on December 17, 1992 upon completion of a major restoration under the supervision of an historic preservation architect.

The Church’s exterior design represents the eclectic period of American Victorian Architecture and is reminiscent of a modified early renaissance revival building with rusticated exterior walls, round arches, and lunettes filled with transitional gothic arches, louvered shutters and colored glass windows. The stone blocks that went into its construction are in fact poured concrete made from the oolitic limestone dug from the ground on which the Church stands. It became the first non-wooden place of Catholic worship in South Florida. The exterior architecture is similar to Leone Battista Alberti’s San Francesco Church in Rimini, Italy.

Front of Church photo similar to front façade of Leone Battista Alberti’s San Francesco (Tom Pope has a photo in a book) in Rimini, Italy

History

Key West quintessential geography and geology secured viable habitation long before any notable human development both in the territory known now as the Archdiocese of Miami as well as in most of Florida.The Florida Keys are a narrow, gently curving chain of sub-tropical islands extending one hundred and thirteen miles from the tip of Florida to Key West, which is ninety miles north of Havana, Cuba. “Key” comes from the Spanish word, “cayo” which means ‘small island.’

To the south and to the east of Key West and the Florida Keys is the Atlantic Ocean which is held in check by the third largest coral reef in the world. This coral reef provides a natural harbor from the confluence of capricious ocean and sea currents, which have directed many to Key West willingly, and sometimes unwillingly, from the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits. The very name, Key West, is not merely an indication of geographical location, but it is a transliteration of “Cayo Hueso,’ a common name based on its geological appearance resembling the color of bones.

Unique to Key West is its geology of oolitic limestone in the surface, deep below the surface and rising beyond the surface. It is the perfect host for wells and cisterns to collect rain water. The wells are lined with concrete made from the oolitic limestone, which provided potable water protected from saline ocean water and bacteria. The providence of God’s creation in the unique geography and geology of Key West and the Lower Keys provided a viable dwelling for His creatures and thus stability for the development of peoples and for the propagation of faith.

The present Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church is literally built upon, and built from, this oolitic limestone rock. The Church building is of concrete made from an aggregate of limestone dug from the grounds and beach sand, which is of coral. Though the furnishings and the statuary within the Church have suffered through the ravages of time, tropical weather and termites, the Church building itself stands firmly upon this rock and, most importantly, upon the rock of Saint Peter. And on this rock was established, Saint Mary Star of the Sea Parish:

First Parish in what is now the Archdiocese of Miami (1851)

  • One of the oldest Parish established in what is now the State of Florida
  • First Catholic School in the State of Florida, which continues today (1868)
  • National and State designated historic site
  • A site of regional and national pilgrimage

Posted in North America and United States