Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

39°56′4″N 75°8′37″W / 39.93444°N 75.14361°W / 39.93444; -75.14361Coordinates: 39°56′4″N 75°8′37″W / 39.93444°N 75.14361°W / 39.93444; -75.14361

Area 3.71 acres (1.50 ha)
2.08 acres (0.84 ha) federal
Established November 17, 1942
Governing body Corporation of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church, founded in 1677, and built between 1697 and 1700, is a historic church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The congregation was originally Swedish Lutheran, but has been Episcopalian since 1845.


Gloria Dei is the oldest church in Pennsylvania and second oldest Swedish church in the United States after Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) in Wilmington, Delaware. Swedish pioneers of New Sweden were the first to settle the area in 1646. An existing blockhouse at Wicaco (now South Philadelphia), had been renovated for worship in 1677 and was used until the present church (built beginning in 1697) was consecrated on the First Sunday after Trinity, July 2, 1700.[1][2] A fire destroyed many of the church records in 1740. Colonial painter Gustavus Hesselius was a member here.[3]

In 1703, Gloria Dei was the site of the first regular Lutheran ordination in the Western hemisphere, that of Justus Falckner, a German theology student. Jenny Lind sang here during one of her American tours. Hanging in the center aisle is a Swedish chandelier given by famous Swedish artist Carl Milles. Recollections of many Swedish royal and episcopal visits are treasured memories, including models of Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, the first Swedish ships to arrive in New Sweden.[4]

It is located at Columbus Boulevard (formerly known as Delaware Avenue) and Christian Street. There is a fine collection of historical and religious artifacts the church has acquired over three centuries, including bronze crosses and 18th Century bibles in Swedish and English. In 1845, the formerly Swedish Lutheran congregation joined the Episcopal Church. Today the church is owned and maintained by its congregation of Episcopalians.[5]

Administrative history

The church was designated a National Historic Site on November 17, 1942. It is an affiliated area of the National Park Service under Independence National Historical Park. The church site is owned and administered by the Corporation of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.[6]


The church cemetery includes the following interments:

There is also a memorial to John Hanson, a President of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution.

See also

Philadelphia portal


External links

  • Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church
  • NPS website: Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site
  • Cemetery Guide (PDF)
  • Listing, photographs, and drawings Historic American Buildings Survey
  • Churches of New Sweden
  • Find A Grave