In 1912, a nun named Sister Maria asked for permission from Vincentian authorities in Europe to establish a mission for Spanish speaking Catholics in Philadelphia, according to an article in the Inquirer last month. In response to that request, the Vincentians purchased 1903 Spring Garden St., a church now known as La Milagrosa, which has been a center for the Catholic Hispanic community for over a century. And now, it seems, this place which has been a spiritual home for so many over the years, will close its doors on June 30th.
Because the property was purchased all those years ago by the Vincentians, they still maintain ownership control despite the fact that they’ve been hands-off on the property for most of its years and left active involvement in services in the 1970s. According to the article, the sale is being spurred by that fact that part of the proceeds will go toward retirement costs for Vincentian priests in Spain. Certainly something that’s well within their rights, but still a sad ending for the 150 plus people who worship here weekly.
As for what will come of the building, we would imagine that a residential developer will purchase the property and turn it into either condos or rental apartments. Hopefully, some original interior details from this important building can be salvaged and incorporated into unique apartment units when this eventually happens. The good news is that it seems highly unlikely that this building will be demolished, like so many other churches that have sold in recent years- but how long will it be until nobody remembers what it was for so many people for so long?
With the closing of La Milagrosa, a Spanish-speaking service will be added to the schedule at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul near Logan Square. While it’s encouraging that La Milagrosa’s congregants will have a place to go, we suspect it won’t be the same.