Sunday, May 10, 2009

St Anselm, Fourth Ave. and 82nd St., Bay Ridge

The mailing address for St. Anselm's parish is 356 82nd St., Brooklyn NY 11209, telephone 718-238-2900.  Mass schedules are on the parish website, linked here.

To enlarge any photo, please click on it.

The mosaic behind the altar shows Anselm as archbishop of Canterbury. The mosaic is the work of Leif Neandross of the famous Rambusch Decorating Company. The Rambuschs designed much of the interior of the church ( You can see their current website here: ). As it turns out, in the early years of the parish, the Rambuschs lived just two blocks down on 82nd near Ridge Blvd. This was a wonderful asset to our parish as the church was being built!
"This precious marble mosaic includes some gold glass mosaic to give an added richness to the subtle and disciplined gray and ochre theme." Surrounding the heroic figure of St. Anselm are different symbols which refer to this great saint's role as a Doctor of the church, a traveler in the service of his Faith, and as Archbishop of Canterbury."

You can see those references specifically in these symbols:

Bottom left - the coat of arms of the bishop of Canterbury
Bottom right - the cathedral of Canterbury
Middle left - a boat representing his journey to England
Middle right - a scroll representing Scholasticism
Top Right - Virgin and Child, representing his treatise "De Incarnatione Verbi" about Christ's incarnation and birth
Top Left - A mountain, representing his treatise "Proslogion" in which he argues that "God is greater than that which can be conceived" (in this case, the mountain symbolizes the greatest thing that can be conceived by one's mind.)

(Thanks to Joe Jordan for the above.)

The mailing address of St. Anselm Roman Catholic School is 365 83rd Street, Brooklyn NY 11209, telephone 718-745-7643.  The school's website is linked here.  The above photo shows it on the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and 83rd Street.

St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church and School is located between 82nd and 83rd Streets on Fourth Avenue in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. While the original parish boundaries are from 78th Street to 87th Street, and from Shore Road to the Gowanus Expressway approaching the Verrazano Bridge, people from all over Brooklyn regularly attend Mass here.

The parish was organized in the early 1920s, in response to the growing population of the neighborhood following the construction of the subway. The first Masses were celebrated in a private house on Colonial Road and 81st Street until land was purchased for a church. In 1923 a temporary free-standing church, which is now the auditorium for the parish school, was erected on the corner of 83rd Street and 4th Avenue. The present school building was built around this original structure. A large convent is adjacent to the school on the 83rd Street side, and throughout most of its history the school was served by School Sisters of Notre Dame. St. Anselm's has been educating Bay Ridge's youth for over 80 years and has the highest student enrollment in the neighborhood today.

The cornerstone of the present church building was set by Archbishop Thomas E. Molloy in 1954. The church, which has pronounced art-deco features, was designed by architect Henry V. Murphy and was decorated by the Rambusch Decorating Company. The stained glass windows that surround the interior depict the stages of salvation history, from Genesis to Pentecost, and in the side-chapels the windows depict the mysteries of the Rosary. A memorial grotto dedicated to the Blessed Mother is located on the 83rd street side of the church.

St. Anselm's is a vibrant parish with an acclaimed youth activities program and numerous pastoral ministries. If you would like to learn more about St. Anselm's, please visit their website at

And if you have any stories or old photographs about the parish you would like to share with them to help their parish history project, please email: ppc(at)starcc(dot)net

1 comment:

Barbara said...
This is a terrific project. Thanks to Joe Jordon for the initial article. Does anyone know where and how to find historical demographic data by census tract? Barbara Walters-Doehrman
Replying to that comment:
I suspect a good start for historical demographic data would be at one of the larger Brooklyn public library reference desks. Much is probably available on the internet, but I don't know where. A few years ago, I was very pleased by the help I received at the National Archives on Varick Street, Manhattan, entrance on West Houston Street, link here. Joe M.)
To add a comment, click on the "Comment" link above the photos. I moved the comments up there because the layout was placing the comments confusingly close to the following post.
The travels of St. Anselm astound me. He was born about 1033 in Aosta, Lombardy, northwest Italy, almost into present-day France. About age 23 entered a Benedictine monastery in Bec, Normandy, and from there he went on to Canterbury, becoming archbishop in 1092. He then made two trips to Rome, one of these extended to Bari, and back again to his see of Canterbury, where he died April 21, 1109. One of the better capsule biographies of Anselm on the internet is here, but you have to work around to April 21. The new full edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints (12 vol., Liturgical Press, 1999, revised by Peter Doyle) gives Anselm six pages. Joe M.
A banner proclaims that St. Anselm's school is the largest in Bay Ridge. In the 2012 Official Catholic Directory, it is listed as having 439 students. In 1945, the number seems to have been 1,090, according to the Catholics in New York exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. In the 2016 Official Catholic Director, St. Anselm's Catholic Academy is listed as having 284 students.
The New York Public Library has a digital collection on the web. In 1924, the city commissioned aerial views of all boroughs. This view seems to show the property of present-day St. Anselm's on the west side of Fourth Avenue either empty or with an unidentified white splotch in the center. One can use the Pan and Zoom tool to look more closely.
Sometimes the Home Reporter and Sunset News has items of interest concerning Bay Ridge Catholic parishes and schools. 

In April, 2013, the New York Daily News reported that the former convent has been renovated and leased to the non-profit YAI, Young Adult Intitiative, for sixteen senior citizens with special needs.


  1. When we were pupils at St Anselm's way back when, his marvelous story (e.g. following the Norman invasion to England) and his intellectual accomplishments (e.g. the Ontological Proof of the Existence of God) were never mentioned.

    But I have a question someone might be able to help me with: when was Father Bogle at St. Anselm as a curate ? He was a wonderful parish priest and brought a youthful exuberance to everything he did.

  2. Father Bogle was at St. Anselm's while I was in second grade to fifth grade - this would have been 1954 to 1957 - I think he was born Jewish and converted to Catholicism - my family met him and his mother in Mattituck on Long Island during the summer while we were on vacation - you are correct in that he was a gracious and compassionate person.

  3. Father Bogle was on the youngish side, but he was there in the 60's when I was in attendance. I think he had a cleft in his chin.

  4. Father Bogle was there in the 60's when I was in attendance. He had a cleft in his chin from what I remember. I think he left the ordera short time later. BTW, why isn't there a robust St.Anselm website with old and new photos... meetings keeping the generations together with activities??????? It's as if the parish has no idea there's such a thing as the internet. Interesting. And you wonder why no one shows up at Mass.