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~ ~ ST. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH ~ ~
St. Francis Xavier Church was built in 1874 and was located on Barnstable Road in Hyannis. It was located almost four blocks away from the present church and originally called St. Patrick Church. That church was moved to its present location at 347 South Street around 1903.
Because of the growing number of Cape Verdeans in the area, and the desire to avoid the impression that it was an "Irish only" parish, the church's name was changed.
In honor of the great Jesuit missionary who planted the seed of the Faith through India and the Far East, and won innumerable souls for Christ and His Church, the church was renamed St. Francis Xavier.
The main altar was donated in memory of
Lt. Joseph Kennedy
the son of
Ambassador Joseph P.
Rose F. Kennedy.
Joseph's plane crashed over the English Channel in 1944, during the Second World War. At the left side of the crucifix is an image of St. George, representing England and on the right is St. Joan of Arc, representing France. Directly above the crucifix are Navy wings.
The main section of the church (the nave) was originally as wide as the distance between the columns within the church, but was widened when the church was moved.
The columns were added to the facade of the church some time after 1903.
Theeast wingwas added to the church in 1946. Thewest wingwas added in 1953, giving the church a seating capacity of 960. With the major renovation of 1998-99, the seating capacity was increased to 1200. During this renovation, the three shrines were added to the church; the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier Shrines. The stained glass windows in the nave depict ten of the Twelve Apostles. The missing Apostles are Simon the Zealot and Bartholomew.
The second pew from the front in the east wing is where President and Mrs. Kennedy sat when they attended Sunday Mass while staying at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport. Members of the Secret Service, as well as other members of the Kennedy family, would sit in the first and third pews.
The President and Mrs. Kennedy were not married at St. Francis Xavier. They were married at St. Mary in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1953.
When you walk through the ornate front doors of St. Francis you will be in the foyer, then enter the church proper.
There are two cry rooms just before you Exit the church via the west wing. The room to the right also houses a Reconciliation Room.
The last Kennedy family wedding to take place at St. Francis was that of Maria Shriver, and Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, on April 26, 1986.
Maria is the dauther of R. Sargent and Eunice Kennedy-Shriver.
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Sacred Heart Chapel
32 Summer Street
Yarmouth Port, MA
Office: 21 Cross Street, Hyannis, MA 02601
St. Francis Xavier
Sacred Heart Chapel
A Parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese
of Fall River, MA
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St. Francis Xavier Church
347 South Street
TOURS - VISITORS
St. Francis Xavier Guided Tours
St. Francis Xavier Church, located at High School Road and South Street, is over 100-years-old and serves a vibrant and diverse congregation. Masses are celebrated in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin.
From 1926 through 1986, it was the summer church of the Kennedy family, who donated the central altar in memory of their son Joseph A. Kennedy, Jr., who died during World War II.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, and Mrs. Kennedy attended Sunday Mass there throughout the summers of his presidency until his assassination on November 22, 1963. Various family members continue to attend when on the Cape.
To accommodate the many tourists who wish to visit sites in Hyannis relating to JFK, the first Catholic president and the youngest in our nation’s history, the church will resume tours mid May until the end of October.
Docents will be on hand Monday through Friday, from 9 to 11 PM and 1:30 to 3:30 PM, to explain the church’s unique history, architecture, and its part in the Kennedy saga. Individuals and bus tours are welcome during these times.
A free will offering will be appreciated to assist in the preservation of the oldest standing Catholic church building in Hyannis.