St. Andrew the Apostle Parish

Founded July 2, 1916

St. Andrew the Apostle Parish Church has a long and beautiful history in Drexel Hill, Pa.  What began in 1916, in the little wooden chapel has today, grown into a soaring Gothic-style church which is the home for many Catholics in the Drexel Hill area.  

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The Wooden Chapel - 1916

The first St. Andrew the Apostle Church established by

Rev. Joseph M. McShain

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The Drexel Hill Landscape: 

St. Andrew School, dedicated on August 27, 1922 is the large building in the center.  It served as a combination school and church until 1928.

 The cornerstone was blessed  on May 28, 1928.  The completed St. Andrew the Apostle Church shown here was dedicated on

December 2, 1928 by

Cardinal Dennis Dougherty.

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In the spring of 1962, work again was underway to complete the Church design originally intended, but not completed due to the Great Depression and a lack of finances.  The cathedral ceiling was raised up 12-1/2 feet to the soaring height of 70 feet.  

The 2nd Pastor, Rev. John J. Hughes, dedicated the completed 

Church in 1963.  This is the church as it is today.

Art and Symbolism of St. Andrew Church

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Before crossing the threshold of the church, visitors are welcomed by the main central doors as the symbol of the Blessed Savior, Himself who said: "Ego sum ostium.  Per me si quis introierit salvabitur."  I am the door.  If anyone enters, through Me, he shall be saved... John 10:9

The Shield of St. Andrew adorns the door above the threshold.  The red (martyrdom) breastplate is emblazoned with the white (purity) cross of his passion and an inverted anchor (the primary aid for mariners in time of danger) which symbolizes the faith that led St. Andrew to accept death and is our sure and certain hope in times of struggle.

The Cross of St. Andrew is in the form of the letter "X" because it was on this instrument of torture that he was crucified being bound, not nailed, and stretched in order to prolong his agony.  It is believed that St. Andrew hanged alive for two days before dying. 

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The sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon and the other ministers exercise their functions.  The Altar of Sacrifice is strikingly plain in its design and execution.  It is designed in accordance with ancient traditions, maintains a creative balance of purpose and function with aesthetics and simplicity.  

The tabernacle stands out in bold relief drawing one's eyes to the central mystery of our Catholic faith.  It is a handsome piece of bronze craftsmanship, enriched with semiprecious jewels and in every way a scriptural emblem of highest value.  It is executed in the form of a tent, recalling the tabernacle of the Old Testament which contained the Ark of the Covenant and over which hung the mysterious cloud.  

In 2015, during the Centennial year, a new crucifix was installed above the tabernacle.  Modelled on the famous Cimabue Crucifix (c.1265 ), it is hand-carved in linden wood from Italy and blends harmoniously with the colors of the other wood statuary in the reredos.

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The reredos is an elaborately carved screen used as background for the altar.  Original to the church at the time of its construction in 1928 is the base holding the screen, constructed of soft green tone marble, laid off in paned patterns.  Inscribed across the top in Latin are the words taken from the Gospel of St. John (6:51-52):  Ego sum panis vivus qui de coelo descendi.  Si quis mandacaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternum - I am the living bread who has come down from heaven.  If anyone eat of this bread, he shall live forever.  

A large statue of Christ the King is positioned in the main central space which dominates the entire center of the screen.  Statues of adoring angels supported by corbels, ornamented with crosses are included in the collection of statuary.  

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In the second stage of construction in 1962, the reredos was made taller and incorporated more statues and symbols.  On either side of Christ the King, features emblazoned in red, the color of martyrdom, are twelve symbols of the Passion of our Lord represented on shields. 

Left photo, first row:  

A ciborium, shrouded in light (Jesus imprisoned); the satchel & 30 pieces of silver (the betrayal of Judas)

Second row:

The chord (which bound our Lord); the whips and flagellation post and whipping post (the Scourging of Jesus)

Third row:

The spear and gall-soaked sponge (the mockery Jesus endured); the lantern (Christ's Passion which began in the evening at the Garden of Gethsemane and continued under the cover of night)

Right photo, first row:

The rooster (the denial of Peter; the basin and ewer (Pilate's cowardice)

Second row:

Three nails (the Crucifixion of Jesus, the nails usually appear in sets of three to identify Christ as a member of the Trinity); the seamless cloak and three dice (Jesus' fulfillment of the Messianic Prophecy)

Third row:

Sword and rod (the suffering of Jesus), the Cross of Calvary (Jesus' supreme sacrifice)

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Intricately carved statues adorn the reredos in two rows of niches, surrounding Christ the King on both sides.  The uppermost row includes:  on the left, St. Stephen the proto-martyr, depicted wearing a red dalmatic and carrying stones in one arm to show the type of death he suffered and the palm of victory in his right hand; on the right, St. Andrew, our patron supported by his emblematic cross.  Statues of St. Michael the Archangel and St. John the Baptist occupy the middle-tier niches.  Just above the altar backscreen on the left is that of St. Elizabeth, our Lady's cousin and mother of St. John the Baptist and on the right, is St. Ann, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Adorning Christ the King on both sides are  adoring angels supported by corbels, ornamented with crosses.