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.
David Mosk | Feb 17, 2018
The gardens here are amazing, lush, and beautifully kept. I highly recommend coming here for repose or a quiet reflection.
Tim Dolson | Nov 19, 2017
Beautiful church, 9:00 AM Mass with Childrens choir was great. Spot on homily for 33rd Sunday of ordinary time. Very welcoming congregation.
k alexander | Jan 15, 2018
I went here for a wedding. The church is on the small side but very beautiful. Side doors can be opened up along the length of both sides of the chapel for a nice cross breeze. The grounds are pretty and there are some nice places for photography taking. The priest was just great. I recommend this place.
Liz | Feb 28, 2018
Beautiful historic church, I liked being able to stroll around the property and take it all in. Definitely stop here if you have time!
Barbara Matheson | Mar 1, 2018
Beautiful, open air masses. The grotto is Beautiful. Peaceful grounds.
Joseph Glass | Apr 8, 2018
Very nice place to sit and reflect. Nice garden and grotto in the rear of the Basilica. There is also a nun graveyard and the stations of the cross. Free parking and a gift shop are also there. Awesome place to take a break from the excitement of Key West.
Catherine Spottke | May 8, 2018
My husband & I having been coming to Key West for the past 20 years. We love the place & love to begin each day at St. Mary's for morning mass (7:30 a.m.) Great way to begin the day! Try it . . .
Jeffrey Gregorie | Jun 1, 2018
Open and peaceful sanctuary to be alone with prayer and memories. This is a blessed place to spend a hour and to view the grounds and note the plaques. Spent a life time traveling about the earth and whenever there was a church I would visit. All are God’s abode and this is a testament to that belief—He is here as well if you open your heart.
Hope Reynolds | May 25, 2018
The oldest Catholic parish in the state of Florida and the oldest in the Archdiocese of Miami, property in the historic district on the National Register of Historic places. It was established by Spanish Jesuits in 1566, abandoned in 1572 when the missionaries were recalled to Mexico but they returned to Cuba in 1724. In 1743, two Italian Jesuits from Havana opened a mission chapel on Key West for attendance by natives. Reverend John F. Kirby was sent by Bishop Francis X. Gartland of the Diocese of Savannah to Key West in 1851 and established St. Mary Star of the Sea parish in 1851. The first permanent Catholic Church on Key West was dedicate don February 26th, 1852, on the corner of Duval and Eaton Streets. It was the 5th Catholic parish established in the State of Florida and the first parish in South Florida. It is said that when visiting a new town, we should always enter a Catholic Church because we get to see society as it gathers to honor faith. On Sunday, June 14th, 2015, we entered as people left one Mass and another was about to start, meeting and greeting those we came in contact with. We arrived as one Mass was ending and another was in the works. We sat for a while, prayed and left. As we go through the door, the most enchanting family is arriving, they have dressed their little boy with a white suit and I could not help but tell him he was gorgeous and the little kid stopped, we asked for permission and photographed him. What is simply remarkable is that we went for breakfast and driving back they were leaving the Church, so we opened the window and called him and he starts running toward the car! Highly recommend stopping and saying your prayers at this enchanting house of worship!
Traveler Reviews | Jun 15, 2018
Visited this church while on a Key West vacation and really liked it. Their setup is great and it is always very quiet in there. We actually did not get a chance to attend any service but their doors are open to anyone including tourists from all around the world. The place is super clean and everyone was very friendly. It is a fair walking distance from center of Key West but you can also bike there.
Richard | Jul 2, 2018
Historic and beautiful Church. Also don’t forget to take a walk through the cemetery across the street. Watch out for the iguanas.
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