Historic Markers Across Florida

Sacred Heart Church-Established 1860-Oldest Catholic Church on Florida's West Coast

Marker ID:  
Location: at the corner of N Florida Ave and E Twiggs St. in Tampa, FL
County: Hillsborough
Coordinates: N 27° 56.964    W 082° 27.448
  27.9494    -82.45746666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: WMQ8CC


In 1859 a small wood-framed church was erected on this spot. The following year it was blessed and named St. Louis Church to honor Fr. Luis De Cancer, a Dominican missionary who was martyred on the shores of Tampa Bay in 1549. When the yellow fever epidemic of 1887-88 took the lives of three resident priests, Bishop Moore of St. Augustine asked the New Orleans Jesuits to care for the parish. During their time here, they established Jesuit High School (1899), ministered to much of south Florida and built the present landmark church. Ground was broken in 1898 and this magnificent Romanesque structure, to be named Sacred Hart, was dedicated seven years later on January 15, 1905. The Jesuits would go on to serve the parish for 115 years until 2005, when pastoral care of this historic gem was given to the Franciscans.

Diocese of St. Petersburg