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St Dominic Church in San Francisco

St. Dominic's Catholic Church, 2390 Bush St, San Francisco, Kalifornija, Združene države Amerike

Website of the Sanctuary

415 567 7824

Every day: 6:30 am - 9:00 pm

Saint Dominic Church is a Dominican Parish in San Francisco. Established in 1873, it supports a lively community of clergy, parishioners, including the Novitiate for the Western Dominican Province.

About Saint Dominic

Dominic de Guzman was born in Old Castile around 1170 into a noble family. Dominic’s two older brothers were studying for the priesthood when Dominic was born.

Taking his studies at the University of Palencia, he was ordained and soon joined the chapter of Augustinian Canons at Osma. He was made prior of the canons at an early age.

In 1203 his cloister peace was disturbed by the bishop, who summoned him to go on a diplomatic mission to “The Marches”–a noble family living possibly in Denmark.

As they traveled throughout France he met the heresy which was to be his principal adversary in life: the teaching of the Albigensians.

St Dominic Church in San Francisco

Its affects had corrupted the whole of the southern provinces in France.

Convinced that someone should preach the truth to these misguided people, he discussed with Bishop Diego the project of giving missions among them.

Dominic began the work with great zeal. However, there were several setbacks. The bishop died, the Cistercians, with whom they had undertaken the work, went home discouraged and Dominic was left with just a handful of followers.

Dominic decided to organize his followers into a group with the papal commission to preach. He made several trips across Europe to get this permission, finally receiving it in 1216.

St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) with several startling innovations. Dominic proposed a democratic form of government in a time when the only form of government was the monarchy.

The brothers would elect their priors, who would rule for a limited amount of time. Dominic insisted that the rules of the Order not bind under pain of sin, only under the penalty fixed for its violation.

He was the first to propose an Order dedicated to preaching at a time when no one but bishops preached regularly.

Inside the Church

Arnold Sutherland Constable, the architect of St. Dominic’s sf, was born in England. He brought with him a knowledge and love of the English Gothic style when he moved to Seattle and began work with the architectural firm of Beezer Brothers. He designed this church and much of its decoration, including the High Altar and the Baptismal font.

The High Altar was carved of botticino marble at Pietrasanta, Italy and shipped to the United States in 76 crates.

The altar suffered damage in transit and was repaired in San Francisco by Albert Bernasconi.

Saint Dominic's St Dominic Church in San Francisco

The front of the altar carries a relief carving of Fra Angelico’s famous painting of St. Dominic at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Surrounding this center are statues of the 12 apostles and saints. The altar in the Lady Chapel is of Carrara marble obtained through Amadeo Magnini of Florence.

The Edmund Schmid Woodcarving Studio of Oberammergau, Germany, carved the oak altars and shrines and the confessionals. The Holy Name Altar was signed by Edmund Schmid.

Alphonse Peeters et Fils of Liege, Belgium, carved the statues of the Blessed Mother in the Lady Chapel, the angels under the rood beam, Sts. Catherine, Antoninus, Anthony, Pius V and Martin de Porres, the Dominican saints in the ambulatory around the sanctuary, St. Rose of Lima in the Lady Chapel, Sts. Francis and Dominic at the main interior doors.

B. Van Uytvanck et Fils of Louvain, Belgium, created the statues of Christ the King in the apse arch, the Rosary group at the shrine, St. Therese of Lisieux of the Child of Jesus at the Holy Name Altar and the angels in the Baptistry.

St Dominic Church in San Francisco

The crucifixion group on the rood beam was produced for the second St. Dominic’s Church. With the Pieta and the Stations of the Cross, it was saved from the earthquake ruins of 1906 and reinstalled in the present church in 1928.

The stained glass windows in the apse, the Lady Chapel, the sides of the transepts and most of the small windows in St. Dominic’s are by Charles J. Connick of Boston, whose signature appears on several.

The last of these windows was installed in 1936 by the Cummings Studios of San Francisco, who also made at least one of the windows.

St Dominic Church in San Francisco

Max Ingrand of Paris created the windows that line the nave as well as the large west window and those on the north and south sides of the transepts and the suite of small windows in the sacristy. These were installed between 1964 and 1973.

The pipe organ was built in Boston, Massachusetts in 1909 and was housed in the temporary church on Pierce Street before being moved into the current structure.

Over the Lady Chapel, opening into the Choir Stalls, there is a room nearly four stories tall that contains almost 4,000 pipes ranging in size from thirty-two feet long to others smaller than a pencil.

The lowest notes in the organ produce a tone that vibrates at sixteen cycles per second. The organ is registered with the Organ Historical Society as one of the most important, historical instruments in the country.

The most recent artistic addition to the church are the twelve wrought steel crosses, affixed to ten pillars and in the transepts. They were crafted for our church in 1992 by Roger Yearout Metalsmithing of San Francisco for the dedication of St. Dominic’s Church.

St Dominic Church in San Francisco

This love of the work itself, of the materials, of the process of creation is the glory of St. Dominic’s Church. Each piece of art is an individual treasure. Together they form this exquisite offering of prayer and praise.

In 1926, an anonymous Dominican wrote of the church then being built: TRULY IT IS A SERMON IN STONE.

History of Saint Dominic’s Church

Dominicans first came to San Francisco in 1850 when the Most Reverend Joseph Sadoc Alemany, Father Sadoc Francis Vilarrasa and Mother Mary of the Cross Goemere arrived from Spain via several other appointments in the United States.

Bishop Alemany had been appointed Bishop of Monterey and invited Fr. Vilarrasa to accompany him to California. The Archdiocese of San Francisco was created in 1853 and Archbishop Alemany was its first incumbent.

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The first Dominican Priory in San Francisco was established in 1863 at Van Ness and Broadway to provide a center for the friars who were given charge of the new parish of Saint Brigid.

The Dominicans served there until 1875 when it was transferred to diocesan clergy. During this time, Dominicans served the parishes of Saint Francis of Assisi and Notre Dame des Victoires as well.

In 1863, the Dominican order paid $6,000 for the city block bounded by Steiner, Bush, Pierce and Pine Streets. During 1872 and 1873, Fr. Vilarrasa and the Provincial Council approved the expenditure of $25,000 to build a priory and a church.

The first Saint Dominic’s, a small church at the corner of Bush and Steiner Streets, was blessed on June 29, 1873. The Priory of Saint Dominic was formally established in 1876.

St Dominic Church in San Francisco

By 1880, it was apparent that the church was too small for its rapidly growing congregation. Plans were drawn for a much larger church to be built of brick on the same site.

The first church was moved to a location on Pine Street where it served as a parish hall. Although the cornerstone of the second church was laid in 1883, years of financial hardship followed and the church did not open until 1887 and was not completed for several years after. It served the parish until April 18, 1906.

During the months following the great earthquake, parishioners gathered for Mass outdoors until, in October 1906, a wooden church opened on the Pierce Street side of the block. This “temporary” Saint Dominic’s was to remain in use as a church until 1928 and as a parish hall until the 1960’s when it was finally torn down.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

  • Weekdays 6:30am, 8:00am, 5:30pm – St. Jude Mass
  • Saturdays 8:00am – Mass with Morning Prayer
  • Sundays
    • 5:30pm Saturday Vigil
    • 7:30am
    • 9:30am
    • 11:30am,
    • 1:30pm (En Español)
    • 5:30pm
    • 9:00pm

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Inside the Church

Arnold Sutherland Constable, the architect of St. Dominic’s, was born in England. He brought with him a knowledge and love of the English Gothic style when he moved to Seattle and began work with the architectural firm of Beezer Brothers. He designed this church and much of its decoration, including the High Altar and the Baptismal font.

The High Altar was carved of botticino marble at Pietrasanta, Italy and shipped to the United States in 76 crates. The altar suffered damage in transit and was repaired in San Francisco by Albert Bernasconi. The front of the altar carries a relief carving of Fra Angelico’s famous painting of St. Dominic at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Surrounding this center are statues of the 12 apostles and saints. The altar in the Lady Chapel is of Carrara marble obtained through Amadeo Magnini of Florence.

The Edmund Schmid Woodcarving Studio of Oberammergau, Germany, carved the oak altars and shrines and the confessionals. The Holy Name Altar was signed by Edmund Schmid.

Alphonse Peeters et Fils of Liege, Belgium, carved the statues of the Blessed Mother in the Lady Chapel, the angels under the rood beam, Sts. Catherine, Antoninus, Anthony, Pius V and Martin de Porres, the Dominican saints in the ambulatory around the sanctuary, St. Rose of Lima in the Lady Chapel, Sts. Francis and Dominic at the main interior doors.

B. Van Uytvanck et Fils of Louvain, Belgium, created the statues of Christ the King in the apse arch, the Rosary group at the shrine, St. Therese of Lisieux of the Child of Jesus at the Holy Name Altar and the angels in the Baptistry.

The crucifixion group on the rood beam was produced for the second St. Dominic’s Church. With the Pieta and the Stations of the Cross, it was saved from the earthquake ruins of 1906 and reinstalled in the present church in 1928.

The stained glass windows in the apse, the Lady Chapel, the sides of the transepts and most of the small windows in St. Dominic’s are by Charles J. Connick of Boston, whose signature appears on several. The last of these windows was installed in 1936 by the Cummings Studios of San Francisco, who also made at least one of the windows. Max Ingrand of Paris created the windows that line the nave as well as the large west window and those on the north and south sides of the transepts and the suite of small windows in the sacristy. These were installed between 1964 and 1973.

The pipe organ was built in Boston, Massachusetts in 1909 and was housed in the temporary church on Pierce Street before being moved into the current structure. Over the Lady Chapel, opening into the Choir Stalls, there is a room nearly four stories tall that contains almost 4,000 pipes ranging in size from thirty-two feet long to others smaller than a pencil. The lowest notes in the organ produce a tone that vibrates at sixteen cycles per second. The organ is registered with the Organ Historical Society as one of the most important, historical instruments in the country.

The most recent artistic addition to the church are the twelve wrought steel crosses, affixed to ten pillars and in the transepts. They were crafted for our church in 1992 by Roger Yearout Metalsmithing of San Francisco for the dedication of St. Dominic’s Church.

This love of the work itself, of the materials, of the process of creation is the glory of St. Dominic’s Church. Each piece of art is an individual treasure. Together they form this exquisite offering of prayer and praise.

In 1926, an anonymous Dominican wrote of the church then being built: TRULY IT IS A SERMON IN STONE.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

History of Saint Dominic’s Church

Dominicans first came to San Francisco in 1850 when the Most Reverend Joseph Sadoc Alemany, Father Sadoc Francis Vilarrasa and Mother Mary of the Cross Goemere arrived from Spain via several other appointments in the United States. Bishop Alemany had been appointed Bishop of Monterey and invited Fr. Vilarrasa to accompany him to California. The Archdiocese of San Francisco was created in 1853 and Archbishop Alemany was its first incumbent.

The first Dominican Priory in San francisco was established in 1863 at Van Ness and Broadway to provide a center for the friars who were given charge of the new parish of Saint Brigid. The Dominicans served there until 1875 when it was transferred to diocesan clergy. During this time, Dominicans served the parishes of Saint Francis of Assisi and Notre Dame des Victoires as well.

In 1863, the Dominican order paid $6,000 for the city block bounded by Steiner, Bush, Pierce and Pine Streets. During 1872 and 1873, Fr. Vilarrasa and the Provincial Council approved the expenditure of $25,000 to build a priory and a church. The first Saint Dominic’s, a small church at the corner of Bush and Steiner Streets, was blessed on June 29, 1873. The Priory of Saint Dominic was formally established in 1876.

By 1880, it was apparent that the church was too small for its rapidly growing congregation. Plans were drawn for a much larger church to be built of brick on the same site. The first church was moved to a location on Pine Street where it served as a parish hall. Although the cornerstone of the second church was laid in 1883, years of financial hardship followed and the church did not open until 1887 and was not completed for several years after. It served the parish until April 18, 1906.

During the months following the great earthquake, parishioners gathered for Mass outdoors until, in October 1906, a wooden church opened on the Pierce Street side of the block. This “temporary” Saint Dominic’s was to remain in use as a church until 1928 and as a parish hall until the 1960’s when it was finally torn down.

Work did not begin on the fourth Saint Dominic’s until 1923. Archbishop Hanna blessed the new church after construction was finished in 1928. Even then, work continued for many years as the building we know now was brought to completion at the time of Saint Dominic’s centennial celebration in 1973.

The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 destroyed the beautiful “lantern” of Saint Dominic’s tower. The tower itself was severely damaged, but was repaired and strengthened during the two months the church was closed. Much of the decorative work on the ceiling beams of the church fell during the quake and the remainder was removed for the safety of the parishioners.

As early as 1984, engineering tests had determined that the church was seismically unstable. Work began immediately to find a solution and a way to pay for it. The Saint Dominic’s Preservation and Restoration Project began its work in 1986. By June 1991, sufficient funds had been raised to begin the construction of nine flying buttresses that rise from concrete piers deep underground and soar to connect at a ring beam that girdles the church at the roof line. This medieval concept was found to be the best solution to a late 20th century problem. But the cost was in 1992 dollars: $6.6 million. Parishioners and friends from around the world confirmed the importance of this Church by raising all the needed funds.

Construction was completed in July 1992, and Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco dedicated Saint Dominic’s Church on August 1, 1992.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Posted in North America and United States