The Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Augusta, now, then, now, then!
The pastor of Most Holy Trinity, Father John Barry had to contend with phenomenal growth in Augusta produced by the Irish potato famine that brought Irish Immigrants to Augusta to work on digging its canal to feed the needs of its large textile industry fueled by cotton. Savannah had a similar immigration in the 1840's.
Most Holy Trinity has its roots in the late 1700's when French Catholics had migrated to Augusta. The French eventually were deeded the property in downtown Augusta where they built a little wooden frame church building. But with the influx of Irish in the 1840's it was added onto to make it cruciform.
By the 1850's Father John Barry, its pastor for some 30 years, saw the handwriting on the wall and made plans for a new church that he hoped one day would become a cathedral. By 1857, Father John Barry was the second Bishop of Savannah. He laid the cornerstone for the new church and as an olive branch to the French who were smarting with the Irish take over of their parish, he placed it under the patronage of the French saint, St. Vincent de Paul.
Bishop John Barry hoped to move his cathedral from Savannah (which had none at the time) to Augusta to get away from the ravages of Yellow Fever there. Unfortunately, on one of his many trips to Paris, France, which he loved and had actually procured beautiful brass altar gates there, he died in the early 1860's. He was brought back to Savannah and buried in the Catholic cemetery there.
In 1863 in the midst of the War Between the States, Most Holy Trinity was completed and consecrated. But by this time the Irish were in control and changed the patronage of the church from Saint Vincent de Paul of France to Saint Patrick of Ireland on Easter Sunday 1863 by vote of the clergy and laity! Then the church was called by popular piety Saint Patrick Catholic Church, although its official name of Most Holy Trinity was never changed--it remained the official name but soon everyone forgot that!
In 1970 when two other downtown parishes were merged into Saint Patrick's building, the original name was recovered, Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Many thought it was a new name to honor three parishes becoming one, but it was going back to the official name.
Bishop Barry's body was exhumed from Savannah and placed in an above ground tomb under the Church of the Most Holy Trinity by 1866. There are about 12 other priests' tombs there and thus the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is the only Catholic cemetery in Augusta.
In 1998 with the addition of a new sacristy to the church, as the foundation was being dug, a large iron statue was discovered that had been buried. It was exhumed and turned out to be a large statue of the same size as two other cast iron statues in the Church and it was St. Vincent de Paul. It had be crushed and buried behind the church! I wonder who did that after the Irish had named the church Saint Patrick? The other two large cast iron statues still in the church are of the Sacred Heart, and you guessed it, Saint Patrick!
But Saint Patrick is still honored in Augusta with a Saint Patrick's Day Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity under the Patronage of Saint Patrick (and Saint Vincent de Paul) and the parade that follows that passes in front of it and its proud heritage. The 1857 Church is still referred to as the "new" church, btw!
Most Holy Trinity's Immaculate Conception School's float: