Outside of Baltimore, the only other important settlement of Catholic Germans was in Cumberland. The Catholics of Cumberland first came under the care of the Redemptorists in 1841. The church was founded in 1848 by St John Neumann (became America's first male saint) to serve the German-speaking people of Cumberland, Maryland. The Redemptorists, Carmelites, Ursulines, and Capuchins have served as the spiritual leaders of the parish. The German people began to work on a church on the lots at the corner of Plumb Alley and Fayette Street in the spring of1848. The church was dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul on September 23, 1849.
By 1850, the Germans had purchased
a large tract for a cemetery on Fayette Street next to the Episcopal Rose Hill
Cemetery. Michael Wiesel was the most
distinguished member of the parish, their organist. He was also accomplished on the piano, violin
and flute He emigrated from Bavaria to Baltimore
and organized and directed an orchestra and brass band there. He had the honor of composing the funeral
march at the death of President Harrison.
The church has been served by the Redemptorists, the Carmelite Friars and the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. The latter arriving in the US in 1875, continue to serve St. Peter & Paul.
Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien issued a decree on July 18, 2011, establishing SS. Peter and Paul Church on Fayette Street as an archdiocesan shrine, according to The Catholic Review. SS. Peter and Paul was decreed a shrine because of its rich history associated with “two very holy persons” (a saint and an individual being put forward for sainthood), according to Caine.
Also in 2011 five independent parishes merged in Western Maryland, along with Sts. Peter and Paul, there was St. Mary and St. Patrick (Cumberland), St. Patrick (Mt. Savage) and St. Ambrose (Creasaptown). They became one united community of faith, where they all work together toward common goals.
We visited the church in June 2015. I think my biggest impression was the hill where it sits. A beautiful view of the area and a challenge to walk upright. We took the photos on that visit.
SS. Peter and Paul (est. 1848)