The Catholic Church did not enjoy the original toleration that characterized other non-Anglican forms of worship in South Carolina. The first mass was not celebrated in Charleston until 1789. But by 1800, the first church, St. Mary's, had been founded, and with the great influx of Irish in the 1820s and 1830s, the Catholic Church became an important part of the community. The Cathedral Church of St. John and St. Finbar was built between 1852 and 1854 in highly ornamented Gothic style, but was destroyed in the great fire of 1861. The artist William Aiken Walker painted the ruins in 1868; not until 1888 was this romantic ruin replaced by the Cathedral of St. John.
Courtesy of the Gibbes Museum of Art/Carolina Art Association.