Saints Peter and Paul Parish:
A Brief History
SS. Peter and Paul Homepage

There is no longer a beach in North Beach. The name was born in the 1850's when a finger of the bay extended far inland between Telegraph and Russian Hills and the neighborhood was a sunny stretch of shore. Many worlds intermingle in North Beach now. What was once known as "Little Italy," has become a melting pot of Italian, Chinese, Hispanic, Japanese, Indian, and other pocket communities. Central in the exciting ethnic mosaic is the church of SS. Peter and Paul which traces its original foundation to 1884. The first location of the church was on the corner of Filbert Street and Grant Avenue. The San Francisco fire and earthquake of 1906 razed this structure to the ground.  

 
The original SS. Peter and Paul Church
on Filbert Street and Grant Avenue, Circa 1886.


SS. Peter and Paul Church
as it appears today.

 

 

The present church, with its twin lofty spires that soar 191 feet into the sky, was completed in 1924. For over a century, the church of SS. Peter and Paul has served parishioners, charmed the numerous tourists who visit it daily, and has been an inspiration to the members of the North Beach community. A ribbon of verse from Dante's "Paradiso" spans the facade and translates:

"The glory of Him who moves all things
penetrates and glows throughout the universe."


This mosaic inscription placed just above the three entrances to the church connects the four large pillars upon which rest the symbols of the four Evangelists: Matthew (An angel), Mark (A lion), Luke (An ox) and John (An eagle). Original plans, regrettably laid away to rest, called for spectacular outdoor mosaics covering the entire facade. The twin spires (191 feet) have become a landmark in the area. The church is 100 feet wide and 160 feet long. The magnificent rose window measures fourteen feet in diameter.