The first Catholic parish in the City of Brotherly Love was named for St. Joseph. Old St. Joseph's in Philadelphia was founded in 1733. The current building is the third church on the site and was dedicated in 1839. An 1886 painting by Filippo Costaggini, "The Angelic Exaltation of St. Joseph into Heaven," adorns the ceiling.
In the wake of a yellow fever epidemic in 1793, which killed a tenth of the population, St. Joseph's established an orphanage to care for children left without families. The church became racially integrated in the 1790s when slaves fleeing a revolution in Santo Domingo settled in Philadelphia and some joined the church.+
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