The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea

Key West, United States

The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea

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The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea is a Minor Basilica of the Catholic Church located in Key West, Florida, United States. It is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the state of Florida and the oldest parish in the Archdiocese of Miami. The church is a contributing property in the Key West Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

The first Catholic presence in the Florida Keys was established on Upper Matecumbe Key by Spanish Jesuits in 1566. The Jesuit superiors in Spain abandoned the Florida missions in 1572 and the missionaries were recalled to Mexico. They attempted to establish a permanent mission on Key West as early as 1724. However, the Native peoples on the Keys were unpredictable and the English raiders from the Carolinas forced the missionaries to return to Cuba in 1727. Two Italian Jesuits from Havana opened a mission chapel on Key West in 1743 for the Native peoples. The Spanish governor ordered them to return to Cuba as well as he could not protect them.

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