North Side: St. Anthony's Chapel
Pittsburg Press, 5 June 1892.
The annual pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Anthony has again commenced, and the many boarding places clustering about the little chapel are rapidly being filled with visitors. The [fame] of Father Mollinger, the venerable priest-physician, has spread to all parts of the continent, and he now numbers among his patients invalids from nearly every state and territory in the union, as well as from Canada and British Columbia.
Some of these visitors have traveled hundreds of miles to get here. So firm has [been] their assurance that Father Mollinger can help them that many of them have spent every cent of money they had for railway fare and have suffered the greatest discomforts by traveling day and night in crowded day coaches in their efforts to put themselves under the priest's influence and receive the blessing as soon as possible.
An interesting scene is now presented in the neighborhood of Father Mollinger's little chapel. The residence of the priest, the chapel and many of the boarding places are located on Hazel street. In the rear a hill slopes gently downward into a beautiful valley, and from the porches of the residences an interesting panorama of the surrounding hills and valleys is afforded. In decided contrast is the view from the river front. Instead of a clear atmosphere and the bright hills covered with foliage, can be seen nothing but a huge cloud of black smoke that seems to settle continually over the city, with here and there a church spire, a smoke stack or tower projecting through the cloud.
The streets are lined with wide-spreading shade trees, and invalids in roller chairs wheeling themselves about, others limping along on crutches can be seen at all hours of the day, regaling themselves with the pure air and bracing breezes that sweep over the hill. Occasionally one meets a blind person feeling his way along the curb with his trusty cane, but the greater majority of the invalids spend their time sitting about the porches of the boarding places reading, writing or engaged in conversation. Were the tell-tale crutches, canes and roller chairs absent, one might take the place for a quiet summer resort.
It is in the morning after breakfast that this colony of invalids awake into activity. As early as 5 o'clock they begin to move toward the chapel to mass or for prayers and then take seats in the reception room to await the appearance of Father Mollinger, in hopes of being the first to be ushered into his presence. It is in the waiting room that the invalids have to display the utmost patience and fortitude. Here some of them sit in one position for hours waiting for a chance to get a seat nearer the priest's consulting office. It is estimated that during the past two weeks there have been fully 600 people in the church and waiting room every morning.
Few remarkable cures have been reported thus far this season and it
may be due to this fact that the influx of visitors is not nearly so
large as last year. They are coming every day however and this week will
add hundreds to the list every day.
Last year the total attendance on St. Anthony's day was nearly 20,000. Of course this number included many visitors from different portions of the city. This year it is thought the number will be above 12,000. The cottage keepers are preparing for a larger number, however, and some of them have erected sheds adjoining their residences to use as dining rooms when the guests begin to swell in numbers.
Several invalids who claim to have been benefited by Father Mollinger during the past few weeks were seen by the Press representative yesterday. The case of Miss Annie Moore of Oil City created considerable comment. Last winter she was stricken with the grip and was very ill for several weeks. During her illness her eye sight failed, and when she recovered she was unable to distinguish a single object. She consulted several physicians at home and in this city, but they could give her no encouragement. She finally decided to go to Mount Troy and see Father Mollinger. She has been there but a few days and says she can now see as well as ever. Miss Moore has a brother who is an engineer on the Baltimore & Ohio road, and she has been stopping at his home in Glenwood.
Miss Julia [Quill] came from far off Portland, Ore., to see the
priest-physician. Her complaint is spine disease, for which she has been
suffering for the past five years. She says she has already been
benefited. She cannot remain until St. Anthony's day and will finish her
treatment at home.
Michael O'Regon, of Youngstown, O., has been suffering from an injury to the spine contracted while lifting a heavy load. He says: "I came here a week ago. I was unable to walk and could scarcely move my body; now I can run and jump and kick as high as the next man," and suiting the action to the word, he vaulted over the porch railing to the street below, a distance of nearly eight feet.
During his stay on the hill the reporter was given an opportunity of seeing the interior of the new stone chapel. Which has just been completed. A fair representation of the exterior of the building is shown in an accompanying illustration. [Quality too poor to scan.] He was shown through shaded lawn to the side door of the chapel.
As a place of worship the little chapel is well worth seeing. There is something very European in its internal as well as its external appearance. With its single aisle and model choir, it seems truly reminiscent of the old English cathedral. A splendid statue of St. Anthony, of Padua, stands in the center of the building near the vestibule containing the relics. It stands on a pedestal of Italian, brilliant and Kentucky marbles, intermixed with cut onyx in variety. On either side are the altars of Joseph and the virgin in delicate rosewood, finely polished. These are about 12 feet high, and the statues, which are miniatures, are encased in glass. Around the aisle are the stations of the cross; magnificent works of art. The story of Calvary is told with life-size pictures of the Savior's sufferings, and reflect with brilliancy from the gorgeous nichings in which they are placed. Each station is a life representation of the way of the cross, carved from Linden wood. The figures were imported from Munich at a total cost of $28,000. There are 7,000 relics in the building. They are placed in cases which line the walls of the chancel. There are many relics of St. Anthony, such as finger-nails, pieces of wood from the shoes he wore, and there are mites of the dresses worn by St. Mary and St. Theresa. The ceiling of the building is beautifully frescoed. The nave is lighted from windows on the second tier, while the whole is devoid of galleries, except that set aside for the use of the choir. On this gallery stands a new organ, which has just been built.
The church was first opened to the public yesterday morning, when Father Mollinger administered the blessing upon his patients. The formal dedication will take place next Saturday with elaborate and impressive ceremonies. On the Monday following will be St. Anthony's day.