Historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church gears up for another annual Christmas tour

Now in its fourth year, the tour adds a focus on influential women to its showcase of Romanesque architecture.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church located downtown at 508 N Florida Ave. is one of the oldest Catholic churches on Florida's west coast. This year's fourth annual Christmas program held Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. is titled “Women of Service and Substance” and covers the history, architecture, and construction of the building.  Special to the Times | Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Sacred Heart Catholic Church located downtown at 508 N Florida Ave. is one of the oldest Catholic churches on Florida's west coast. This year's fourth annual Christmas program held Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. is titled “Women of Service and Substance” and covers the history, architecture, and construction of the building. Special to the Times | Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Published December 20 2018
Updated December 21 2018

DOWNTOWN TAMPA — Sacred Heart Catholic Church anticipates another packed house at its fourth annual Christmas tour, scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 26) at the historic Romanesque building at 509 N Florida Ave.

Similar to previous years, the docents of the parish will dress in 1905 period clothing and share information regarding the history, architecture and construction of the 113 year old building known for its massive presence and elaborate interior.

This year's program, titled “Women of Service and Substance,” provides stories of the history of service from some early women members of the church and will highlight several prominent Tampa-related women.

The featured Tampa notables will include Mrs. Ellen Maher Jackson, wife of Tampa's first surveyor, John L. Jackson, and Jeannette Collar, who was the daughter of the first white settlers in the Ft. Brooke area.

They also will enlighten visitors on Anna Smith of New York City whose sons provided funds for the Carrara marble altar in memory of their mother and Tampa visitor, and Katherine Veronica Jackson, benefactor of the Academy of Holy Names school and Tampa activist.

The program also highlights nuns who came to Tampa during the yellow fever epidemic and more recently, Ethel Jackson, who worked as the secretary to the Jesuits for more than 60 years.

But exploring the church will be the ultimate highlight for visitors. The Jesuit order constructed the church in 1905, and it holds its beauty with its historic architecture and stained glass windows made by the famous Josef Mayer Studios in Munich, Germany.

In the spirit of Christmas, the church decor features 90 strands of lights, 20 trees, 200 poinsettias, nearly 60 wreaths and 180 feet of lighted garland beginning at the exterior and ending at the choir loft.

Guests have the freedom to ask questions of the docents and take pictures of the church decor. The event is free and does not require reservations or tickets.

Contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com. Follow @Mo_UNIQUE_.

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