Goria Dei Church National Historic Site

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Webpage: National Park

General Description: Gloria Dei is the oldest church in Pennsylvania and the second oldest Swedish Church in the United States.  Swedish pioneers were the first to settle the region around Philadelphia in 1646.  Gloria Dei was built from 1697 and completed in 1700.  In 1703, Gloria Dei was the site of the first Lutheran ordination in the new world.  Hanging from the ceiling are a Swedish chandelier given by the famous Swedish artist Carl Milles and models of the two ships that brought the first settlers to New Sweden, Fogel Grip and Kalmer Nyckel.  The cemetery outside the church contains many graves dating back to the Colonial period, including the earliest grave of Sven Gunnaarson who died in 1678.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) There is no Visitor Center for the National Historic Site.  Brochures are available in the sanctuary which is open for self guided tours.  In addition to the chandelier, ship models, and golden angels over the door, be sure to notice the gravestones that are on the floor.  This was a common practice during colonial period to bury the dead in the floor of the sanctuary.

ChurchAndCemetery ShipModel

2) We did spend some time in the cemetery, however, the oldest grave markers were generally impossible to read after all this time so we were unable to find the more noteworthy graves.  However, there is a wide variety of gravestones, small tombs, and markers in the cemetery.

Cemetery

3) Especially since there is no organized tours or National Park Service staff, it takes no more than an hour to visit the Church and pay your respects.

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