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Blast(-Off) From The Past: St. Augustine Cathedral Discovers Time Capsule

newspapers, coins, etc.
Diocese of St. Augustine

  The city and Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine are both busy preparing for a joint celebration of the 450th anniversary of their founding. The Cathedral of St. Augustine is undergoing renovations ahead of the mega event this September. This week, workers on the cathedral’s altar discovered a piece of St. Augustine history from a more recent era.

Cathedral Basilica Rector, Father Thomas Willis, says he was in his office when his contractor, Brian Baker, brought in the unexpected find.

"Mr. Baker was totally excited about it," Willis says. 

It is a time capsule from 1966, the last time the cathedral’s altar underwent big renovations. Willis says the most touching item inside is a handwritten note from the previous foreman saying how much he loved working on the church. But for Willis, the most exciting discovery was an old St. Augustine Record newspaper announcing NASA’s latest accomplishment: the planned launch the Saturn 1B rocket from Cape Canaveral.

"And I just thought that was so neat for some priest who had a big fancy on space back when he was a kid," he says. 

The time capsule tradition will continue, Willis says, when work is expected to finish this March. And it’s all for the parish’s 450th birthday celebration on September 8.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP