The Storied Past of Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel

Posted: Jan 16, 2018 11:14 pm Updated: Oct 17, 2023 10:26 am

Did you know that the Basilica of St. Michael has been in Pensacola since 1781 and that its origins can be traced back to Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez? More than 230 years ago, Galvez led his Spanish troops in a 61-day siege to recapture Pensacola from the British. Also among his ranks was a Capuchin missionary and chaplain to the troops named Father Cyril de Barcelona. On May 8, when the Spanish declared victory over the British in the Battle of Pensacola, Father Cyril blessed an old, two-story warehouse on the waterfront for a church, permanently establishing the parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Downtown Pensacola. 

After the first church, which was located on Zaragossa Street, collapsed in 1831, three more sites would be destroyed by hurricane, fire, and even the Civil War, before the Basilica of St. Micheal found its current home on Palafox and Chase Streets in 1886. Would you believe that at the time some parishioners balked at the suggestion of this location because it was "so far from town"? 

If you'd like to experience a piece of this parish's storied history, you can attend mass at the beautiful, Gothic Revival style church any day but Saturday. Check out their website for more information.

[PHOTO: Stuart Schaefer Photography]