The Chapel of Castillo de San Marcos


Material Information

The Chapel of Castillo de San Marcos
Series Title:
Castillo de San Marcos Terreplein Project
Physical Description:
Luis R. Arana
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Folder: Prior excavations, research, & reports

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
97-3003; 93-3000; 94-3000
Castillo de San Marcos
System ID:

Full Text


The north side of Castillo de San Marcos has six rooms which

open to the courtyard. From west to east, these rooms have administratively been assigned numbers 12 through 17. Some are known also by another designation, such as the English room for No. 12, the chapel for No. 14, and the fern room for No. 16.

The most historically accurate of these additional designations is the one for Room 14. This room was indeed the chapel of Castillo de San Marcos in 1763. This fact is supported by documentation as well as by extant physical features. There is an altar at the front of the room, and above it a niche in the wall behind the altar. At the rear, there is a holy water font in each side wall.

It has been assumed that Room 14, in use as the chapel in 1763,

contained an image of St. Mark in the niche above the altar. The assumption rests on the fact that the niche exists, and on the belief that such image is listed in the inventory made in Cuba in 1764 of the religious items evacuated from St. Augustine upon the cession of Florida to Great Britain.

These notes examine the above facts and assumption. They also bring together information relative to the time of construction of Room 14, length of its use as the chapel, its presumed furnishings, and the chaplaincy of Castillo de San Marcos.

The rooms of Castillo de San Marcos were arched in two stages of construction. The first stage took place in 1738-39, during which only the eight rooms in the east side were finished.1 The Wars of Jenkins' Ear and of the Austrian Succession, which lasted until 1748,


prevented the arching of the rooms in the other three sides. Still in November, 1750, the Castillo had arched rooms in the east side only, and the rooms in the north, west, and south sides were roofed by tabby on boards placed on beams.2 The second stage in arching the rooms may have begun in 1752,3 but was definitely finished in 1756. The work performed during this interval included the three unfinished sides. No room failed to get its arch.4 The lack of written documentation concerning this second stage of construction prevents saying whether the north, west, or south side was finished first. Perhaps work proceeded on the three sides concurrently. With all the arching completed it can be stated, however, that Room 14 in the north side was built some time between 1752 and 1756.

Room 1h may not have been used as the chapel as soon as all the arching of Castillo de San Marcos was completed. During 1756, Engineer Pedro de Brosas, in charge of the project, made two maps of the fort, one in May and the other in October, to show the progress of the work. In both maps, Brosas bisected the fortification by drawing a north-south line running along the middle of Room 14 and the Sal3y Port. Brosas also made elevations of the western half of the Castillo. The elevation made in May shows Room 1i without an altar, and the elevation made in October compares the new arched room with the old beamed room.5 Because of its purpose, the latter elevation could not show whether or not an altar had been added to Room 1h in the interval between May and October. The non-appearance of the altar in the former elevation, however, is undefinite proof that the altar was not in Room Il. Brosas may have carelessly Jon2

gotten to put it in the May elevation. The comparison of the two elevations reveals that Brozas was not above error, for in October he omitted details which he had recorded in May.

The use of Room 14 as the chapel may have started some time after 1756, and the room was definitely in such use in 1763. In the latter year, Engineer Pablo Castell6 made a map of Castillo de San Marcos in order to record its condition at the time of transfer to Great Britain. On this map, he represented the eastern half of the Castillo as roofless to show the rooms below. In No. 14, he showed an altar with what looks like a cross drawn upon it. The room is indeed labeled as the Chapel of St. Mark in the map's key.6 It may be asmed that the niche above the altar and the holy water fonts also were there at the times.

The assumption that in 1763 an image of St. Mark was located in the niche above the altar in Room 1i is based on a belief that such image was inventoried in Cuba in 1764 with other religious items. The transcription and translation of the inventory was done by Professor W. H. Siebert.

The examination of the inventory does not support the ass~tion. There is not a listing for a separate Chapel of St. Mark nor for an image of that saint. On the other hand, the inventory lists items belonging to the parish church of St. Augustine and the chapels of individual religious brotherhoods. For instance, the parish church had images of St. Peter, St. Augustine, St. Sebastian, St. Anthory, and a paper reproduction of a picture of St. Francis Xavier. The Brotherhood of the Most Holy Sacrament owned a small painting of St. Anthony. The Brotherhood of the Most Holy Christ of La Soledad had images of the Most


Holy Christ, the Resurrection, Our Lady of Araceli,. and Our Lady of Dolores. The Brotherhood of Las Animas was the owner of images of the Christ of Mercy and Our Lady of Dolores. It also had large canvases of St. Rosalie and St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph, and the Virgin of Dolores, and twelve small canvases depicting angels and souls. The Brotherhood of the Most Holy Virgin of Rosario contained an image of Our Lady of Rosario sitting on a cloud, and other images of St. Francis, St. Domingo, St. Michael, and St. Bernardin of Siena.8 The religious organizations listed above are the only ones appearing on the inventory. In transmitting the item lists, the Bishop of Cuba wrote implying that -thorganiations were all the religious establishments in Florida. This is not so. Not appearing on the inventory for reasons unknown were the Brotherhoods of Santa Veracruz, Our Lady of Concepcion, Our Lady of La Leche, and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Notification of the inventory had been given to those bodies mentioned e and ose *tioned here. There was, however, no notification to someone in charge of a Chapel of St. Mark.9 The point here is that not all the religious units of St. Augustine were represented on the

* inventory, but the omissions did not include a Chapel of St. Mark.

The new Chapel of St. Mark in Room lh did not inherit any items from the old chapel in the south side of Castillo de San Marcos. If it had, it is probable that the chapel and those items would have appeared on the inventory of religious furnishings evacuated from Florida. Up to the beginning of the second stage of arching the rooms, the chapel had been at the location of future Rooms 1 and 2.10 In 1683, the items there consisted of an altar with a painting of St. Mark above it, an

altar frontal with trimmings, altar cloth, a pall, .a chalice with silver paten, chalice cloth, corporals, and a missal on its stand. Of ecclesiastical robes, there was a chasuble, a stole, a maniple, an alb, and an amice. A chest, a small pot for holy water, and a bell for summoning to mass completed the equipment of the old Chapel of St. Mark.These items undoubtedly wore out, but probably some replacements were obtained. Whatever items lasted in the old chapel, it may be speculated, were finally absorbed by the parish church when the Castillo chaplaincy was deactivated in 1753.

Castillo de San Marcos did not have a permanent chaplain by the time Room 14 was finished. This position had been organic to the fort in St. Augustine even before the existence of the masonry fortification. In 1753, however, a new table of organization for the administrative echelon was provided, and the Castillo chaplain deleted. The new basis provided nevertheless that the parish priest had the obligation of going himself or sending one of his priests to the Castillo every feast day to say mass for the detachment there.12 The new table became effective May 1, 1754.13 From the remarks of Parish Priest Juan Jos Solana, concerning the year 1758, the Castillo had indeed no chaplain, but a priest was saying mass there on feast days.14

The Chapel of St. Mark existed in Room 14 in 1763, but it or its presumed furnishings were not listed on the inventory of religious items from St. Augustine. The correspondence attached to the inventory makes it plain that items for the parish church and other chapels in St. Augustine were acquired slowly over a period of years. The cwn was never as generous as it has been sometimes portrayed in providing for the local


establishments. Actually, in most instances, furnishings were paid for from church funds and by voluntary contribution from the parishioners.15 Voluntary contributors objected to support a religious association with which they were not already identified. In 1757 military personnel protested the deduction from their pay for chapel purposes made at the headquarters of the Havana Regiment. They were already being docked some money for support of the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche. The troops in St. Augustine belonged to that regiment, but they complained that theycould not afford the additional deduction.16 These facts may be used to set up a hypothesis: by July, 1763, the chapel, established no earlier than six ad a half years before, was being developed; had acquired altar and holy water fonts only, and had not yet gotten ary other furnishings by the time Spain had to give up Florida. The slow development of the chapel in Room 14 would be accounted for by paucity of church funds and of contributions by parishioners who were already contributing toward their church and several other religious associations.

It is doubtful that the Spaniards ever used Room 14 as a chapel since their return to Florida in 1784. In 1793, a determination was made of the condition of various arched rooms in Castillo de San Marcos for the rehabilitation of one as treasurer's vault. It was found that all the rooms were leaking water excessively because the terreplein furface was all worn and cracked. But four rooms were in better condition than the others : the room next to the chapel, in use as a flour store room; the chapel (No. 14), which was then serving as the officer of the guard room; the room occupied by the general storekeeper, whose upper floor stored merchandise for the Indiansa and the room which had always served


as the treasurer's office (No. 16 in 1763), whose upper story contained artillery stores. This last one was approved for repair in order to hold the treasurer's money chest.17

If the money chest was actually placed in Room 16, it was there for less than three years. The chest was shifted to Room 14 at an undetermined time. On January 2, 1796, the governor and royal officials checked the amount of the government's cash on hand. To do so, they went to Castillo de San Marcos, to the "arched room of the Chapel, which for the present serves the officers of the guard, where a small room of boards, with door and key, has been constructed [and7 where the Royal Treasury chest with three keys has been deposited."18

Room 14 apparently continued as the location of the money chest until Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821. On January 2, 1797, for another audit of the cash on hand, the governor and royal officials went to Castillo de San Marcos, to the "arched room of the Chapel, which now serves the officers of the guard, where there is built a small room of pine boards, with door and key, where the Royal Treasury chest with three keys is deposited."19 During the annual audits of 1798 through 1821, the money chest was said to be "in the arched room which serves the officers of the guard." Although these subsequent reports do not mention the term chapel at all,20 it is safe to assume that the officers of the guard kept on using the room which had once been the chapel (No. 14).

To sum up, Room 14 me arpewas constructed some time between 1752 and 1756, during the second stage in the arching of the rooms of Castillo de San Marcos. It became a chapel some time after 1756 and


was in such use in 1763. Since 1753, however, the regular position of Castillo chaplain had been abolished. An inventory of the religious furnishings evacuated from Florida at the end of the first Spanish period does not list a Chapel of St. Mark or items belonging to it. The fact that Room 14 still contains an altar, a niche, and holy water fonts makes it possible that the chapel in that room was in the process of development at the time the Spaniards had to give up Florida. It is doubtful that Room 14 was ever used as a chapel during the second Spanish period. By 1793 it was the room for the officers of the guard in Castillo de San Marcos and three years later it had become additionally the repository of the Royal Treasury money chest. Such use for Room 14 continued until the cession of Florida to the United States in 1821.

Luis R. Arana

Castillo de San Marcos NM
August 19, 1964



1Governor Manuel de Montiano of Florida to Governor Juan Francisco de Giiemes y Horcasitas of Havana, Florida, June 2, 1738, East Florida Papers (Library of Congress), Series 37, letter No. 43t ". . as soon as they ZAntonio de Arredondo and Pedro Ruis de Olano7 arrived, they put into practice the quarrying of stone for the arched rooms of this Castillo and began to dig the footings for them, which is that on which
work is presently going on with the greatest activity. ." Montiano to Ghemes, August 16, 1739, EFP 37, 154: ". . six arched rooms are finished and work continues on the seventh, which is the penultimate one, and on the last one where the powder is, work may be done in filling up the terreplein, with which all this side of arched rooms will be finished. ."
Montiano to Giiemes, October 24, 1739, EFP 37, 173: "The arched rooms of an entire side are finished and in service,"; Montiano to Giemes, January 28, 1740, EFP 37, 178: ". .. we need at least eight years for its whole rehabilitation [the Castillo '7, considering that twenty one months have been employed on a bastion and eight arched rooms, .".
Montiano to Gliemes, May 20, 1740, EFP 37, 209: . in the space of more than two years, it has not been possible to finish the work at Castillo, except on one of its four sides. .".

2Governor Melchor de Navarrete of Florida to the crown, St. Augustine, October 20, 1749, Archivo General de Indias 87-3-13/11 (Stetson Collection, P. K. Yonge Memorial Library of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville): ". .that in consequence of the work that he Antonio de Arredondo7 might plan, the interior works [of Castillo which were and still are on three sides, of beams, boards, and tabby, be destroyed. . and that arched rooms be erected. ., and having finished completely one of its sides, there came up the disturbance of the inopportune moves of England, that. it was necessary to suspend said work. .
Navarrete to marques de la Ensenada, November 28, 1750, AGI 87-3-13/18, SC: ". . that Your Lordship may be pleased to recommend to the Viceroy of New Spain the remittance of the means assigned by the King for building the arched rooms of the Royal fort of this city, and. . I wrote to the said Viceroy, requesting politely the remittance of this money to continue said works, and until now he has not given az~ provision on this point."
3The calendars of manuscript sources yield no references whatsoever about
the arching of the three unfinished sides of Castillo de San Marcos.
Details such as arrival of the new project engineer, date of renewal of work, sequence in arching, techniques, etc., are therefore unavailable. The date 1752 is an assumption based on circumstancial evidence. For instance, there were 96 convicts present in St. Augustine at the end of 1751, of which 36 were detailed to the quarries (Accountant Jos Antonio Gelabert of the Tribunal de Cuentas de Cuba to the crown, Havana, January 10-14, 1752, AGI 87-1-1/2, SC). The extraction of


coquina implied here by one third of the available labor force means acquisition of quantities of stone required by a large project. Then, there was the assignment of salary to Engineer Pedro de Brozas y Garay who was replacing Pedro Ruiz de Olano in St. Augustine (Crown to the governor and royal officials "of Florida, Madrid, June 12, 1752, AGI 87-3-8/53, SC). Finally, there is a calendar reference to a 77-page manuscript (AGI 86-6-6/1, SC), whose component papers range from 1752 to 1761, dealing with the return of Engineer Pedro Ruiz de Olano to Spain, the appointment of Pedro de Brozas y Garay to St. Augustine, and settlement of pay for Ruiz, all of which suggest 1752 as the date when these events began to happen. It was hoped that this manuscript might incidentally furnish general information on the second stay of the arching of the rooms. Unfortunately, 58 pages have been mislaid in the repository and can not be located.

Pedro de Brozas y Garay, "Plano que demuestra la perfecta conclusion del recinto del Castillo de San Agustin de la Florida en el dia de la fecha," 24 de mayo de 1756, in Cartografla de ultramar, Carpeta II: Estados Unidos y Canada (Madrid: 1953), map No. 67: "Note. . the twenty eight arched rooms which serve as store rooms, plus a small one for prison, ares completely finished, as well as all the interior of said C tllo. ."
Pedro de Brozas y Garay, "Plano, perfiles y elevacion que demuestran el estado en que se halla la reparacion del fuerte de San Agustin de la Florida en el dia de la fecha," 16 de octubre de 1756, in Ibid., map No. 68: ". . the twenty eight arched rooms contained in 7thinterior of said fort, which are completely finished with their slab of tabby, to preserve them from the rain. .. Governor Alonso Ferndes de Heredia of Florida to Secretary of State for the Indies Juliln de Arriaga, Florida, August 26, 1756, AGI 86-6-6/37?, North Carolina Spanish Records, reel 16, document 113: ". . working with the greatest activity and care to finish and put in a state of defense the fortifications of this Castillo, ., which will be concluded as I have explained to Your Lordship during the rest of the present year or beginning of that coming next of fifty seven. .

5Cartograrfa. .., II, 67 and 68.
6Pablo Castell6, "Plano del Castillo del Presidio de San Agustin de la Florida, visto interior y exteriormente en el estado en que so hallaba en 21 de Julio do 1763, cuando por orden de S. M. se entrego a la Gran Bretafta," in Ibed., map No. 69: "L. Chapel of St. Mark."

71nventario de los ornamentos, altares, efigies, campanas y alhajas pertenecientes a la Iglesia Parroquial y a las cofradas del Presidio de San Agustin de la Florida, Habana, 1764, AGI Seccion XI, Legajo 372, numero 2, 70 typed pages.

8Inventario ., pp 8-40.

9lnventario. ., pp 3-7s 40-41.


10Antonio de Arredondo, "Plano del Castillo de San Marcos de la Florida,"
15 de mayo de 1737, in Verne E. Chatelain, The Defenses of Spanish
Florida 1565 to 1763 (Washington: 1941), map No. 9.
1Governor Juan Mirquez Cabrera to the crown, St. Augustine, June 28,
1683, AGI 58-1-26/79, folio 18, NC 5-23.

12Reglamento para las peculiares obligaciones de el Presidio de San
Augustn de la Florida (Mexico: 1753), p 5.
13Governor Francisco Cajigal de la Vega of Havana to Arriaga, Havana,
October 24, 1759, AGI 86-6-6/3, folio 3, SC: "The Florida troops are organized as dependent upon the regiment of this city since May, 175h, when I formed it. ."
14Solana to Arriaga, St. Augustine, April 9, 1760, AGI 86-7-21/41, SC:
". .. part of the rent assigned to the position of assistant parish
priest, which is vacant, is applied to the pay of the priest who says
mass at the Castillo on feast days. .." (folio 22) .. the Castillo
lacks the chaplain. ." (folio 29).

15nventario, ., pp 44-68.
16Fernndes de Heredia to Arriaga, Florida, October 14, 1757, AGI-87-3-13/24, SC.
17Governor of East Florida to Engineer Pedro Dfas Berrio, St. Augustine,
September 13, 1793, EFP 171, 162; DIaz to Governor Juan Nepomuceno
Quesada, September 16, 1793, EFP 171, 163; Quesada to Daz, September 17, 1793, EFP 171, 164.
18Florida, AAfo de 1796. Reconocimiento y conteo de los Reales intereses por fin del Afo de 1795 y principio del citadel de 96, EFP 211, pp 2932, p 30.
19Florida, Afo de 1797. Reconocimiento y conteo de los Reales intereses por fin del AAo de 1796 y principio del citado de 97, EFP 211, pp 3638, p 37.
20EFp, Series 211: Accounts of the Royal Treasury 1791-1821, pp 58, 62,
66, 70, 73, 77, 80, 85, 89, 94, 98, 102, 120, 130, 137, 144, 160, 170,