Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

As I have mentioned before, Atlanta has a lot of beautiful old churches. Thank the Lord (literally) that they are still there and we can enjoy them and attend them. This is the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, founded in 1848. (That is the state capitol in the backgrown)

During the Civil War (often called by southerners as the "War of Northern Aggression"), Father Thomas O'Reilly served as the pastor. We owe Father O'Reilly a great deal of gratituded. Since, it was because of him, we still have many of our beautiful churches.

Like many churches during the time, this church served as a hospital. Father O'Reilly administered impartially to both Union and Confederate soldiers. He knew they were all God's children.

In early September, 1962, Atlanta fell into the hands of Union troops. But Father O'Reilly refused to give up his parsonage to Yankee officers, who were seeking out quarters. He convinced General Sherman to spare several churches and nearby homes. In addition, there were a larger number of Catholics in the Union army, who volunteered to protect their Church.
Thereby City Hall was damaged but not burned. The Second Baptist, Second (Central) Presbyterian, Trinity and Catholic churches and all the residences adjacent between Mitchell and Peters (Trinity Avenue) streets and Loyd and Washington streets were safe, all attributable to Father O'Reilly. He is an Atlanta Hero! His crypt is in this church (so I hear, I've never been inside)

Here is a rare photo of what the church and surrounding area was like in 1873. The church looks the same but the area looks very, very different.

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