St. Patrick's Church
For over 1500 years Rome was without a church dedicated to St. Patrick. However, on the 1st of February 1888 this was rectified and the foundation stone of the present church was laid. The man with the dream was Fr. Patrick Glynn, an Augustinian from Limerick, Ireland, who was based in the Augustinian Church of Santa Maria in Posterula (near Orvieto). However, it took another 23 years before the church in Rome was completed and opened on St. Patrick’s Day, in 1911. The mosaic which dominates the sanctuary and the church, is the work of Rodolfo Villani (1929) depicting St. Patrick converting the High King Laoghaire at Tara, using the shamrock to explain the Trinity. The gold banner inscription “Ut Christiani Ita et Romani Sitis” (“Be ye Christians as those of the Roman Church”) – is a quote taken from the writings of St. Patrick.
On the left side of the main altar is the Sacred Heart altar with a beautiful mosaic of the Last Supper by Galimberti (1942). On the right side of the main altar is Our Lady’s altar with the painting of Our Lady of Grace. This painting is from the 14th century and is painted on slate. In 1955, layers of paint from previous restorations were removed to reveal the original. This painting has been a focus of devotion for Augustinians for more than two centuries, having come to them from the Church of San Biagio in Tinta which was just around the corner from their old church of Santa Maria in Posterula.
In 1922 the American Parish of Rome was established at the Church of Santa Susanna not far from St. Patrick’s. It was staffed by the Paulist Fathers, an American Community of Priests from the United States founded in 1858. Santa Susanna closed on July 5, 2013 for many reasons, and for four years the American community celebrated Masses, Weddings, First Communions, Confirmations, Baptisms and Funerals at four neighboring churches. Since the closing, the Vatican Secretary of State, the Vicariate (Diocese) of Rome and other Vatican Congregations tried unsuccessfully to help the Paulist Fathers and the American Parish to return to Santa Susanna. At the same time, the Irish Augustinians had decided five years earlier to leave Rome and discontinue their ministry at St. Patrick’s Church. They own the Church (and still do) and the surrounding properties but were unsure of what to do with the Church when they were no longer in Rome.
So the Vatican Secretary of State put the two communities together. Even though we already knew each other, we began exploring St. Patrick’s becoming the new church for Catholic Americans in Rome. Through the great generosity and hospitality of the Augustinians, we reached an agreement for the Paulist Fathers to lease St. Patrick’s Church along with some office and meeting space from the Augustinians. On August 1, 2017, we became St. Patrick’s Catholic American Community of Rome, and Father Greg Apparcel became the new Rector of St. Patrick’s as well as the Chaplain for the Mission of the Care of the U.S. Faithful Resident in Rome. Despite these changes, ALL English speakers are welcome to participate in all of our services and ministries, just as we offered at Santa Susanna. All of our Masses are celebrated in English.
In August 2019, Paulist Father Steve Petroff joined the parish staff as the new Vice Rector of St. Patrick’s and Vice Chaplain for the US Faithful in Rome. Detailed information for visitors to Rome can be found on St. Patrick’s extensive website: www.stpatricksamericanrome.org and Facebook www.facebook.com/cacrome as well as throughout this book.