Many New Yorkers were suspicious of the newcomers’ plans to build a house of worship in Manhattan. Some feared the project was being underwritten by foreigners. Others said the strangers’ beliefs were incompatible with democratic principles.
Concerned residents staged demonstrations, some of which turned bitter.
But cooler heads eventually prevailed; the project proceeded to completion. And this week, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan ”” the locus of all that controversy two centuries ago and now the oldest Catholic church in New York State ”” is celebrating the 225th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone.