Historic churches in Palestine open their doors during the Dogwood Festival to share the artistic beauty of the stained glass windows of their shrines. Besides the art depicted in the stained glass windows, visitors can enjoy the interior architecture of the churches, as some are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tours are held between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 19 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, First Christian Church, and First Presbyterian Church. St. Phillips Episcopal Church offers tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 19. The Sacré-Coeur continues the visits on the following two Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 26 and April 2.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 503 N. Queen St.
The Sacred Heart was built in 1893 to replace St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, which was destroyed in a fire in 1890. The new church was designed by architect Nicholas J. Clayton, who also built the palace Episcopal of Galveston.
The approximately two dozen stained glass windows of the Sacred Heart, made in Italy and France, surround the choir, the altar and the sanctuary, which can accommodate 500 to 1,000 people.
Each window artfully depicts a different scene or Christian saint in vibrant colors. Notable scenes include the Ascension of Christ, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, Saint Joseph with the Child of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Christ, Our Lady of Sorrows and Mary, Queen of Heaven.
Other saints commemorated in the windows include St. Luke, St. John, St. Matthew, St. Paul, and St. Peter. The chancel windows depict scenes of Saint Cosmos, Saint Damien, Saint Cecilia, Saint Joan of Arc and Saint Patrick.
For more information about visiting the Sacred Heart stained glass windows, visit www.shpalestine.org or contact the church at 903-729-2463.
First Christian Church, 113 Crawford St.
The stained glass windows in the sanctuary of the First Christian Church are also artistically designed and highly regarded. The church congregation was first organized in 1849 and the first brick sanctuary was built in 1905.
When a larger shrine was built in 1955 at the corner of Houston and Crawford streets, the original eight stained glass windows were restored and repaired before being installed in the new shrine. Most are dedicated to the memory of church leaders and donors and all tell stories from specific Bible verses. The round window above the baptistery was donated by Robert Abernathy in memory of his wife Mary F. Lacey Abernathy.
The chapel and education building also feature several windows donated in memory of former members of the church. The chapel’s large central window depicting Jesus and the lost sheep is particularly stunning and was donated in memory of William and Jeanette Wright.
St. Phillips Episcopal Church, 106 E. Crawford St.
St. Phillips Episcopal Church was organized in 1959, and a building was erected in 1874. The church was later moved to its current location in 1903, but a fire destroyed the building in 1982.
The current structure was built in 1983 and features the same baptismal font and some relics from the building that burned down. The original stained glass windows were destroyed in the fire but replaced by the same company that built the original stained glass windows.
For more information, visit www.stphilipspalestine.com or call 903-729-4214.
First Presbyterian Church, 410 Avenue A
The First Presbyterian Church is the city’s oldest church in continuous congregational service. The church was organized in 1849 and was first built in the town square near the Anderson County Courthouse. However, following the creation of the New Town District and the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s, the church purchased land at its present location on Avenue A.
Construction of the neo-Gothic style church began in 1888 and the building is still in use more than 130 years later. The sanctuary features leaded stained glass and Tiffany memorial windows.
For more information, visit www.fpcpalestine.org or call 903-729-5730.