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Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates 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.



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 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.[4]

Located at Columbus Boulevard (previously known as Delaware Avenue) and Christian Street, the present structure was erected about 1700. 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 in 1937.

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.


  1. ^ Mary Eileen O'Connor, Gloria Dei "Old Swedes" Church (Holy Philadelphia highlights region's religious diversity), Holy Philadelphia, an original WHYY)
  2. ^ G. Sjöblom, "The 75-Year-Old Gloria Dei Church and Its Predecessor 1891-1966"
  3. ^ Records of Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes') Church, Wilmington, Delaware. Separate Index, 1730.
  4. ^ Williams, Rev. Dr. Kim-Eric The Eight Old Swedes' Churches of New Sweden (Wilmington, DE: New Sweden Center, 1999)
  5. ^ Ashmead, Henry Graham, History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Chapter II, Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co. 1884)
  6. ^ The National Parks: Index 2001-2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior

External links



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